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India’s quest for new submarines might hit a snag as the Navy officals are concerned over the extensive American technology integrated into the S-80 Plus submarines offered by Spanish shipyard Navantia. This comes under Project-75I, a tender seeking six new submarines for the Indian Navy.

Sources familiar with the discussions revealed to that the Navy’s apprehension stems from the potential incompatibility between American technology and the promised Transfer of Technology (ToT) for the S-80 Plus. 

Navantia’s S-80 Plus submarine has emerged as a contender in the Indian Navy’s tender, alongside Germany’s TKMS offering its U-212 submarine. While both options bring advanced capabilities to the table, it’s the high degree of American systems in the S-80 Plus that has raised eyebrows among Indian naval officials.

According to sources familiar with the matter, the Indian Navy intends to scrutinize the S-80 Plus submarine’s Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) performance and seek clarification on the ToT offered by Navantia, as well as by TKMS in the coming weeks. 

One significant component of the S-80 Plus submarine is Lockheed Martin’s cylindrical array sonar system, a crucial element for underwater operations. This sophisticated sensor array, tailored for each platform, forms the backbone of the submarine’s acoustic detection capabilities. Additionally, the integrated combat system of the S-80 Plus includes flank array sonar, passive ranging sonar, as well as mine and obstacle detection sonar, all developed by Lockheed Martin.

While these American systems offer advanced capabilities, they present challenges in terms of technology transfer and indigenous integration. India’s stringent requirements for ToT necessitate a comprehensive understanding of the extent to which these systems are covered under the proposed agreement. Furthermore, reliance on Lockheed Martin for the integration of Indian-made weapons into the submarine’s combat system raises questions about long-term operational autonomy and self-sufficiency.

The Indian Navy’s wariness of American tech in the S-80 Plus puts the ball in Navantia’s court. The Spanish company must address these concerns and offer a compelling ToT package to remain competitive in the race to supply India with its next generation of submarines.

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