The navy is still awaiting defence ministry’s approval for inviting bids for the new line of six submarines despite indications that all the stumbling blocks in the way of the crucial project have been cleared.
Navy chief admiral DK Joshi had even announced in December last year that the request for proposal (RFP) for the submarines were on the way “very soon”.
Sources said the ground work has been completed by the navy, and it has sent the proposal to the defence ministry for final approval.
The project, named 75-India, is crucial to augment navy’s under water capabilities which has taken a hit because of delays in finding replacement for the existing fleet of ageing German and Russian submarines.
It was expected that the RFP would now be issued only in the next financial year beginning next month.
The navy had shown sense of urgency in getting necessary approvals as the massive projects needs to get underway without further delays.
The navy is looking to have Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system in the new line of submarines, which will provide the capability to sustain under water longer decreasing the possibilities of detection.
The AIP systems have become crucial feature of conventional diesel electric submarines but at the moment, Indian fleet lacks the capability.
Even the under construction French Scorpene submarines would not have this feature.
The modalities for the construction of the new line were debated upon.
It was felt that two submarines should be purchased directly from a foreign vendor while the two would be constructed at Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Vishakhapatnam and the remaining at Mazgaon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai.
It was argued that the HSL had no experience of building submarines while MDL has the capability because of the ongoing construction of French Scorpene submarines in the shipyard.
The distribution of work among the shipyards for the new line has been the biggest point of contention so far.
Navy chief’s announcement about the RFP being floated very soon had indicated that issue had been sorted out.
Source – Mail online India