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Spain has upped the ante in its bid to win India’s Project-75I contract for six new submarines. Amparo Valcarce, Spain’s Secretary of State for Defence, has extended an invitation to the Indian Navy to witness trials of their cutting-edge Bioethanol Stealth Technology (BEST) Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) system.

This technology is integrated into their new S-80 Plus-class submarines and could be a game-changer for the Indian Navy’s underwater capabilities.

The centrepiece of Spain’s offer is its proprietary Bioethanol Stealth Technology (BEST) AIP system. This “third-generation” technology utilizes fuel cells to provide submarines with extended underwater endurance. Navantia claims BEST offers significant advantages over competitor TKMS’ Fuel-Cell based AIP system for the U-214 submarine.

Key Advantages of BEST

  • Extended Range: Submarines equipped with BEST can reportedly stay submerged for up to three weeks, rivalling the performance of pure electric battery propulsion, but with a smaller signature.
  • Stealth Advantage: BEST’s design supposedly minimizes noise and emissions, making these submarines even harder to detect.
  • Proven Technology: Land-based testing of BEST is complete, and the first S-80 Plus submarine, Isaac Peral, has already been commissioned using this technology.

Both the Navantia S-80 and TKMS U-214 are strong contenders vying for the Indian Navy’s Project-75I contract. This project seeks the domestic construction of six next-generation submarines, offering a significant boost to India’s indigenous shipbuilding capabilities.

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