Six advanced submarines, to be built under Project 75(I) to scale up the Navy’s warfare capabilities, are set to get off the starters’ block, with the Navy issuing a Request for Information (RFI) to six foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for the €8.3-billion submarine project.

“The Indian Navy has issued an RFI asking competent companies that have independently designed and constructed a modern submarine, which is either currently in service or is undergoing sea trials,” confirmed officials who got the RFI, adding that “the L1 for P-75(I) will most likely be announced only at the end of next year.”

A surprise contender among the six OEMs is Japan’s leading shipbuilders Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, which have been “strongly promoting their technological prowess to win contracts to build India’s next generation of submarines,” said sources.

Other than Japan, OEMs from Spain, France, Germany, Russia and Sweden are also in the mix, and have been issued the RFI that details the technical requirements the Indian Navy would like in P-75(I), said sources.

The Navy has issued the RFI to Russian submarine manufacturer Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau, French naval contractor Naval Group (earlier DCNS), Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Spain’s Navantia and Sweden’s Saab.

“The manufacture of six next-generation stealth submarines has moved to the crucial next stage with this RFI,” said an official, who bagged the RFI, seeking anonymity. “Qualified OEMs, which are the technology provider, will be issued an expression of interest (EoI) much later by the Indian Navy. This (foreign OEMs) is patented under India’s newly-announced Strategic Partnership Model in the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016,” the official added.

Technology transfer

Stating that the long-delayed procedure has got a fresh lease of life with the issuance of the RFI, sources indicated that the foreign OEMs will respond to the RFI “to show how they are qualified to build the six submarines with a partner in India. The OEMs will be transferring important know-how, and actual transfer of technology will be key to ascertain which foreign tech partner teams up with the Indian strategical partner.”

Sources added that though the basic parameters of importance in the RFI was the Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP), “which is very innovative, though dangerous,” details were also sought on the means to increase the submarines’ “endurance and stealth capability, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare capability, and land attack capability.”

Among other things, the OEMs were asked to submit data on the proposed design for torpedo tubes, sources said, which could launch heavy-weight torpedoes, missiles and discharge other weapons. They were also asked to elaborate on the transfer of technology they were willing to undertake with regard to the submarine design and construction. The OEMs were asked to detail their plans for the discharge of offset commitments.