INDIA TO BUY SIX SUBMARINES
By Bulbul Singh
26 Feb 07. The Indian Navy will enter a global hunt to acquire six conventional submarines to augment its fleet of 16 submarines, and the contracted French Scorpene submarines signed last year. The $4bn submarines will be in addition to the six Scorpenes submarines which are to be license produced at Mumbai based Mazagon Docks Limited, and the lease of two Russian Akula-II class submarines negotiations for which are in advanced stages between India and Russia. The bids are expected by middle of this year and the contract will be signed within two to three years revealed an Indian defence ministry official.
The Purchase of additional six submarines is part of Indian Navy’s Project 75, under which Indian Navy will acquire 30 submarines, mostly on co-production basis by 2015.
Indian defence ministry officials say, the major contenders for the six submarines include Russians for their fourth generation Amur-1650 sub armed with vertically launched KLUB-S Missiles and new generation of German HDW submarines with their Air Independent propulsion systems, and Fincantieri of Italy with their S 1000 submarine with AIP technology. Last year, senior Indian Navy officials were given a briefing by the Italian on their submarine which is a diesel-electric submarine.
India is also building its home-grown nuclear submarine as a secretive project, called the Advance Technology Vehicle (ATV) and the sub is expected to for its first trials by 2009. Hulls for the ATV have already been ordered to Mumbai based engineering and construction company, Larsen & Toubro.
Sources in the Indian defence ministry said, India has been negotiating with Russia for the last five years for the co-production of the Amur 1650 submarine designed and developed by Rubin of Russia. The Amur is a silent sub, and is designed as a hunter killer capable of destroying targets on the surface and under water by torpedoes said an Indian navy official. The Amur he claimed is several times quieter then the Kilo class submarine.
An Indian Navy official said, the accelerated pace of acquisitions of submarines is part of the strategy for establishing a submarine based Minimum Nuclear Deterrent (MND) adopted as New Delhi’s nuclear policy. As part of this policy the future minimum nuclear deterrent would be based on a triad, a combination of airborne, naval and land based platforms. The Navy has decided to use the submarines as the sea based nuclear deterrent.
As part of this strategy India is building its home-grown ATV project and is in advanced stages of acquiring the Russian Akula-II class submarines. The Indian Navy official said, negotiations are close to being closed on the lease of two Akula-II class submarines from Russia which will cost India around $400m.
Vishakapatnam and the newly commissioned naval base Karwar will house the submarines of the Indian Navy including the existing 16, the six Scorpenes, the additional six Scorpenes to be acquired and the Akula-II class nuclear submarines.
The Indian Navy’s latest doctrine released in 2005 has emphasized the building of assets for littoral warfare. The Indian Navy’s area of operation includes the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal through which over 50 per cent of the world’s traffic, mostly oil.