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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

The German defense major TKMS has confirmed that it is withdrawing its offer to make in India, Six of its next-generation submarine based on the HDW Class 214 vessels under the country’s Project 75I-class (P75I) program on three instances leaving only South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) DSME3000 a 3,300 ton (surface displacement) submarine as sole vendor left behind in the P75I making it an undeclared winner of the tender unless India goes ahead and cancel this tender or makes necessary changes to its ToT and liability clauses.

DSME3000 is based on the Dosan Ahn Changho-class of the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) which is being jointly produced by DSME and Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) as part of the KSS III program. DSME3000 is modified and will not include its six vertical launch system (VLS) cells rather it might incorporate India’s vertical launch system (VLS) developed for the Sub-sonic ITCM based submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) and the SLCM variant of the BrahMos.

DSME3000 is nearly double the size of the Kalvari-class submarine that is still being inducted into the Indian Navy and offers Next-gen Fuel-cell based AIP technology and lithium-ion battery technology that is considered among the best and even at par with the Japanese Soryu-class submarines.

Among five companies that were shortlisted for the P75I competition, TKMS and DSME were the only contenders that had a working and sea-proven fuel cell-based AIP submarine to offer to India, but after the withdrawal of the TKMS, India is staring at a single vendor situation which India try to usually avoid. Some Indian analysts have called the withdrawal of the TKMS a deliberate move since it could have lost on the pricing and Transfer of Technology (ToT) was not the issue when India brought Type 209 submarines in the mid-’80s from the same parent company.

A Counter allegation from the other side of the lobby might accuse the Indian Navy of rigging the tender to suit TKMS and DSME in anticipation that other contenders automatically are disqualified from the tender process and withdrawal of the TKMS just upsets plans of the Indian Navy.

DSME3000 has emerged as a dark horse that no one predicted could win the tender unofficially since it is not clear what will be the course of action by the Navy. If the Navy is not able to convince other vendors to submit their bids then it might cancel and reissue again tender at a later stage that will only further delay the program.

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