P75I race to build six new conventional submarines: Adani Group out, MDL and L&T in the hunt

Huma Siddiqui
P75I, Defence Acquisition Council, L&T, Rajnath Singh, Adani Group, Hindustan Shipyard Limited, OEM, Naval Group, DRDO

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by the defence minister Rajnath Singh rejected the joint bid by Adani Group & Hindustan Shipyard Limited on technical grounds for the $6.3 Billion Project 75(I) programme to build 6 new diesel-electric submarines. This means that Mumbai based Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) and Larsen &Turbo (L&T) have been approved as the Indian Strategic Partners (SP) and will now compete to be chosen for constructing six submarines in India. Whichever company finally wins will be working with five foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM).

For the P 75 (I) whichever company-MDL or L&T is down selected they will get to choose OEMs which include — French Naval Group `Scorpene'; Russian Rubin Design Bureau `Amur 1650'; German Thyssenkrupp `Type 214', Spanish Navantia `S80' and South Korea's DSME. Both Swedish Saab Kockums A26 and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Soryu-class had dropped out from the OEM race earlier in the competition.

As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online, the state-owned MDL already has an active production line and has so far delivered the first two of six Scorpene-class submarines to the Indian Navy. These submarines are being constructed in venture with the French Naval Group.

On the rejection of Adani Group which had sought to be considered as an SP in a tie-up with HSL, informed sources said "During the DAC meeting on Tuesday, defence minister Rajnath Singh took a principled stand that the SP Model will be followed strictly and no exceptions will be made for anyone."

"The competition between MDL and L&T is expected to be interesting. Mumbai based MDL is already working on the `Scorpene' class submarines with the Naval Group."

The down selected SP along with OEMs have to set up dedicated manufacturing lines for these submarines in the country and help in making India the global hub for submarine design and production.

As reported earlier, Russia has offered state-of-the-art "Lada" class diesel-electric submarine which is the export modification of Amur-1650 and will have the capability to be loaded with BrahMos Missile.

Also, in the submarines to be built under the P75 (I) programme there is a provision for the air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology, being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Presently the Indian Navy is operating two different types of submarines — Russian Kilo-class and German Type 209 conventional submarines. And one `Scorpene' class submarine is the new one inducted in the Indian Navy.

What is SP Model?

The ‘Strategic Partnership Model’ was promulgated in 2017. It is to give a major boost to ‘Make in India’ in the Defence Sector.

It will be playing a critical role in building an eco-system in the country which has the development entities, specialised vendors and suppliers.

The focus will be on the MSMEs.

The SP Model is expected to promote India as the manufacturing hub for defence equipment.

And to also establishing an industrial and R&D eco-system.