India’s $5.7 Billion program to acquire a new line of six attack submarines under Project 75 (I) is on verge of collapse, yet again as 5 out of 6 foreign OEMs have already withdrawn their commercial offer due to commercial terms of the Indian Navy’s Request for Proposal (RFP) and some due to lack of failure to meet the key tender technical requirement to have a proven fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system backed by lithium-ion battery technology.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany and Swedish firm SAAB have withdrawn from the Project 75 (I) citing difficulties in the transfer of key technologies and Intellectual Property (IP) while the Naval Group of France, Rosoboronexport of Russia, and Navantia of Spain have been disqualified at the Technical round due to lack of proven fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, that means Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Company of South Korea is the only company left in the one-sided race.

South Korea’s proposal for the Indian Navy’s P-75I is based on the Republic of Korea Navy KSS III design that has a proven fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system that utilizes lithium-ion battery technology. To again make it a two-sided race India will need to convince another OEM or the RFP will need to be canceled since it becomes a single vendor situation that is not allowed under Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP).

The only other country that can meet this requirement other than TKMS will be Japan. India in past had invited Japan to offer its Soryu-class submarine but Japan has refrained from offering its submarine technology to India. Japan was the first country to operate submarines equipped with lithium-based batteries and already have developed second-gen lithium-based batteries for its Taigei-class submarines which is a successor of the Soryu-class submarine and are considered a world-leader in this field.

Indian Navy will either have to redraw its RFPs or compromise on the level of Transfer of Technology it had sought originally, whichever decision it takes any way will only contribute to further delays in the program or it can order more Kalvari class submarines with improvements from Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders or accept Russia offer on supply of used three Kilo-Class submarines after modernization and upgrade.

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