SOURCE: SATYAJEET KUMAR/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Australia a few years back decided to go for the purchase of 12 medium-sized submarines from a conventional submarine maker, but instead later opting for a nuclear submarine design that would be retooled for conventional use. France’s DCNS, now Naval Group, offered a Conventional variant of its Barracuda class nuclear attack submarine called Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A that seemed to be an excellent idea when the contract was awarded to the company and the strategic value was initially to cost AU$50 billion for a 12 submarine deal, but to sustain this submarines could cost two to three times that of their acquisition price.
According to the Australian Financial Review. The project is now valued at around $69 billion, that just their acquisition price and a large chunk of the money that was to be invested in the creation of the local supply chain for the manufacturing of these submarines in the country will not only cost more but also will make the final product more expensive. The program even before manufacturing of the first submarine has started is facing delays since companies in the projects are still holding the design work and intellectual property talks and final Strategic Partnering Agreements are yet to inked. Australia is having a rethink on the program now and considerable debates are happening if it is the right time to invest in an expensive submarine program when the economy is yet recovering from the CCP virus effect.
Indian Navy on other hand has taken deliveries of third Kalvari class diesel-electric attack submarines based on the Scorpène-class submarine developed by Naval Group, and with the sixth submarine already in waters for its sea trials, many are wondering if Project-75I the successor program after the current Project-75 will happen and at what costs. Indian Navy seems to be determined to go for six next-generation submarines based on an entirely new platform and in past has rejected mear idea of go for extended Super Kalvari class submarines to keep costs down that will allow better usage of the present facilities that were developed for local manufacturing of the submarines.
Project-75I will be the last time, India will be building diesel-electric attack submarines locally based on the foreign design and the Navy is keen to get its hands on whatever is best in the submarine technology before the Directorate of Naval Design (Submarine Design Group) will start work on locally developed diesel-electric attack submarines post completion of the Project-75I program. Indian Navy has been offered with some of the radical cutting edge next-generation diesel-electric attack submarines that seem good on paper but have never been build in real.
Australian Disastrous Conventional Submarine Project confirms that it is difficult to arrive at an acquisition price no matter how good the negotiators are. factors like local investment in supply chain and design work and intellectual property talks can go on for years with considerable price increase along the way before program cost is ballooned nearly twice what it was initially negotiated. Indian Navy already witness much drama in the Kalvari class submarine program itself when Spanish state-owned entity Navantia walked out of the program due to differences with the French Naval Group but had to be roped in with a separate contract. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited also faced technical issues in the absorption of the technology that was transferred for local manufacturing and also in setting up of the supply chain of the Kalvari class submarines in India that faced huge time and cost overruns.
Directorate of Naval Design is presently busy in design and development of India’s Nuclear Attack-Class submarine program and it is expected that it will be unable to take design and development of new locally made diesel-electric attack submarine for at least a decade till the Nuclear Attack-Class submarine program goes for sea trials. Mazagon Dock had suggested follow-up orders for 3 more Kalvari class submarines with DRDO developed Air-independent propulsion (AIP) plug but not much has moved in any direction as production facilities now stand empty after completion of the last of the submarines.
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