The Indian Navy will get delivery of the first of its six Scorpene submarines in 2015, a three-year delay from the original schedule of 2012, the Rajya Sabha was informed Wednesday. ‘The first submarine (Scorpene) is now scheduled to be delivered in the second half of 2015. As per the contract, the first submarine was scheduled to be delivered in December, 2012, and thereafter, one each every year till December 2017,’ Defence Minister A.K. Antony said in a written reply during question hour. The six Scorpenes — Project-75 as the submarine construction programme is called — are under construction at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) at a cost of $4 billion in collaboration with French firm DCNS.
‘There has been a delay due to initial teething problems, absorption of technology, augmentation of MDL infrastructure and procurement of MDL Purchased Material (MPM),’ Antony said. He was replying to a question on the delays in augmenting India’s underwater combat capabilities. He said the government constantly reviews the security environment and accordingly decides on the induction of appropriate defence equipment and platforms, including submarines for the navy. ‘This is a continuous process undertaken for the modernization of the armed forces to keep them in a state of readiness to meet any eventuality,’ he said.
‘Any gap in submarine capacity is being addressed by modernisation and upgradation with the state-of-the-art weapons and sensors fitted on the existing submarines to enhance their combat-worthiness,’ he added. The defence minister also noted that the government had accorded approval for revising the cost of Project-75 on account of increase in the cost of MPM items, related sub-heads and additional MDL infrastructure. Antony also said the government had already set in motion the process of constructing additional submarines under Project-75 (India). To shore up its depleting submarine fleet, India will this year issue a $11-billion global tender for building six more next generation vessels under Project-75 (India), a follow-on to the six Scorpenes. The navy issued the RFI for Project 75 (India) in September last year and some of the global firms that have responded to it are Russian Rosoboronexport, French DCNS/Armaris, German HDW and Spanish Navantia. The Indian Navy operates 14 diesel-electric submarines at present after it decommissioned two Foxtrot class submarines last year. Of the 14 submarines, 10 are Kilo class Soviet-origin vessels and the rest are HDW German-origin vessels. India is expected to induct the 12 Project-75 and Project-75 (India) submarines in the next decade-and-a-half. The 12 vessels would now be inducted one after the other over 12 years beginning 2015. The vessels are part of the 30-vessel submarine induction plans of the navy that was approved early in the last decade. The number of navy’s submarines is likely to be just the half of the current 14 vessels in 2015, as most of them are aging and would be decommissioned in the next five years.