French defence firm Naval Group, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems GmBH, Sweden’s SaaB AB and Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau-Amur Shipbuilding Plant have been short-listed by the Indian Navy as strategic partners to build six advanced submarines under the ‘Project-75 India’ or P75(I) programme, estimated to be worth $8 billion.

Rubin Design Bureau is the largest of the three submarine design centres in Russia, while Amur Shipbuilding Plant makes nuclear submarines. Both are owned by Russian state-controlled United Shipbuilding Corporation.

A request for information (RFI) was issued to six top global submarine makers; the four potential collaborators were identified by the Indian Navy, a Defence Ministry official said, asking not to be named because the information has not been made public yet.

The four submarine-makers will have to align with a domestic warship builder and manufacture locally through transfer of technology, the official said.

The P75(I) programme seeks to build six advanced submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology, which enables the submarines to stay under water for a longer period. Besides, the proposed submarines will have a vertical launch system with a new cruise missile that will be used as the main anti-ship missile.

The Scorpene deal

State-run Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd had earlier signed a technology transfer agreement with the Naval Group for building six Scorpene submarines, the first of which was delivered recently.

India’s state-owned warship builders such as Mazagon Dock, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers and order-starved private yards such as L&T and Reliance Naval are expected to vie for the contract.

Mazagon Dock says it has n0t decided on the technology transfer partner for the P75(I) programme.

“We are open,” a Mazagon Dock official said. “As and when the time comes and the request for proposal (RFP) is issued, we will see what the available options are, and what the Indian Navy is looking for at that point in time. We will join hands with whosoever is the best in that strategic partnership model. Technologically, what is in the RFP, what is the Navy seeking at that point... these will decide whether it is the Naval Group or anybody else for that matter. We are open to what the Navy needs.”

The fact that Mazagon Dock has been associated with the Naval Group would not give us an edge over anybody else. It is the technology that will define the specifications, which in turn will determine the award of the contract, he added.