SOURCE: MAHESH SHETTI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
The Navy’s Plans under the Project-75I program to acquire six next-generation submarines to enhance its now aging submarine fleet are in shambles and it is unlikely it will be back on track anytime soon. While Naval Design Bureau has commenced design and development work on India’s first-gen nuclear attack submarine program it needs to be further expanded along with expanded submarine production capabilities and abandoned its plans to procure conventional submarine lines under Project-75I.
Nuclear attack submarines are nearly 3 times more expensive to build and operate but a conventional submarine lacks weapons carrying capabilities and endurance when it is compared to the nuclear attack submarine. The Navy itself confessed that it doesn’t have all the components and systems in place to make locally designed conventional submarines but due to the Arihant class project, it does have an established and proven nuclear submarine supply line that it can use to further expand its nuclear submarine program in much shorter time.
Instead of running after foreign OEMs for the development of the six conventional submarines in India, the Indian Navy should instead cancel this program and go for six additional nuclear attack submarines with either enhanced feature manufactured by the Magazon docks that already have submarine dry docks that are lying idle. This arrangement will give local industrial partners enough time to develop many of the key technologies that will be required to develop a conventional submarine at later stages.
A fleet of 18 conventional submarines based on the Indian developed technologies and a fleet of 12 nuclear attack submarines should mean that the Indian Navy has a desirable underwater submarine fleet to meet its objectives in the Indian ocean and showcase its power projection in the Indian Ocean region where Chinese navy is trying to dominate with the rapid expansion in their sub and underwater Naval capabilities.
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