Tag Archives: Scorpene

Tangled in red tape, India’s submarine fleet sinking

Tangled in red tape, India's submarine fleet sinking
The Indian Navy is making do with just 14 aging conventional diesel-electric submarines.
NEW DELHI: The navy’s desperate attempts to rescue its sinking underwater combat arm have been dealt a double whammy. First, the ongoing project to construct six Scorpene submarines has been delayed by another 14-18 months, with the first vessel now slated to roll out of Mazagon Dock Limited(MDL) by November 2016 at the earliest.More worryingly, the new project to construct six advanced stealth submarines, armed with both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance, is still stuck in political apathy and bureaucratic red-tape. It has already been examined by three committees after being granted “acceptance of necessity” in November 2007.

The finance ministry has now again returned the file for the over Rs 50,000-crore project, code-named Project-75India, to the defence ministry for clarifications.

“The draft Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) note for P-75I is simply being tossed around with no resolution in sight. The global tender or RFP (request for proposal) for it can be issued only after the CCS approves the file,” said a source.

Even if the P-75I tender is floated today, it will take at least three years to ink the contract with the selected foreign collaborator, and another seven to eight years after that for the first submarine to be built.

With the over Rs 23,000 crore Scorpene (P-75) project already running four years behind the original 2012-17 induction schedule, alarms bells are now ringing. The navy is making do with just 14 aging conventional diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW ones — which are to be progressively retired in the coming years despite life-extension refits. China and Pakistan, meanwhile, are adding muscle to their underwater combat fleets.

Way back in 1999, the CCS approved a 30-year submarine-building plan, which envisaged induction of 12 new submarines by 2012, followed by another dozen by 2030. But the government’s inability to plan and take decisions means the navy is yet to get a single submarine 14 years later.

P-75I is embroiled in a debate over the “selection of Indian shipyards” and the “indigenization level to be achieved”. While two submarines are to be imported, four will be constructed in India.

The navy wants private shipyards to be involved in the project to save time since MDL is overburdened with orders. But the MoD’s defence production department has insisted that three will be built at MDL in Mumbai and one at Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam.

The Scorpene project, with contracts being inked with French firms in October 2005 has been grossly mismanaged, with huge time and cost overruns. The deal for the ‘MDL procured material packages’, including sensors, propulsion and the likes, with the French firms was signed only last December. The order for heavy-weight torpedoes to arm the submarines is also yet to be placed.

Projections show only five to six of the present 14 Indian submarines will be fully operational by 2020. Even with a few Scorpenes by then, India will remain far short of the minimum 18 conventional submarines required to deter Pakistan and China.

Source – Times of India

Malaysia needs more submarines – former RMN chief

Malaysian Scopene – KD Tunku Abdul Rahman

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs more submarines to be able effectively safeguard the country’s sovereignty, especially in the South China Sea, former Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) Chief, Admiral (Rtd) Tan Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor said.

He said the RMN would need six, or at least three, submarines.

Currently, Malaysia has two submarines, the Scorpene, which are based at Teluk Sepanggar, Sabah.

“Come the time when the submarines have to be sent for repair or service which is going to take months. Having only two submarines can disrupt operations by the navy,” he said when met by Bernama recently.

He said this when asked on the setting up of submarine fleets by several countries in the region, like Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Recently, Singapore commissioned the Archer-class submarine to operate alongside four Challenger-class submarines.

Mohd Anwar said the best way for RMN to address the problem was by acquiring six Gowind class vessels.

Gowind 950 – Offshore Patrol Vessel

On a posting by  a blogger, known as Shahpaskal on militaryofmalaysia.net, that the use of submarines was not suitable in the Straits of Malacca, he said:

“No submarines dare sail in the Straits of Malacca. If there is any conflict,   with the aim of closing the strait as a passage for vessels, it will happen in the South China Sea or the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea,” he added.

He said the submarines served as the most effective weapon.

The submarines can be used for signal and electronic intelligence operations, he added.

Source – New Straits Times


Brazil launches nuclear submarine building program

Brazil launches nuclear submarine building program

In an attempt to bolster national defense and spur the domestic arms industry, Brazil launched a program to build a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor developed entirely by Brazil.

Brazil advanced on Friday toward its target of joining the small club of nations that have nuclear-powered submarines with the opening of a naval shipyard installation that will build French-designed submarines.

President Dilma Rousseff inaugurated the factory that will make metal hull structures for four conventional diesel-electric Scorpene attack submarines and eventually a fifth submarine powered by a nuclear reactor developed entirely by Brazil. She said Brazil, one of the BRICS group of leading emerging nations and Latin America’s largest nation, was a peaceful country but a defense industry was needed to deter and prevent violent conflict. “This facility allows our country to affirm itself on the world stage and, above all, develop in an independent sovereign way,” Rousseff said.

The submarines will be made by French shipbuilder DCNS in a joint venture with Brazil’s Odebrecht at the Brazilian Navy base on Sepetiba Bay south of Rio de Janeiro. The 7.8 billion reais ($3.95 billion) program will turn out the first conventional submarine in 2015 and the nuclear-powered submarine will be commissioned in 2023 and enter operation in 2025, the Brazilian Navy said in a statement.

The submarines are a key part of Brazil’s effort to build a modern navy that can defend its oil and trade interests in the South Atlantic, a region long dominated by the British and U.S. navies. It is also a revival of nuclear development by the Brazilian military that was halted in 1990 with the end of the country’s nuclear bomb program. If successful, Brazil will join the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China – the five members of the permanent U.N. Security Council, a club Brazil aspires to join – as a country with a home-grown nuclear submarine capability.

The Indian Navy has a nuclear-powered attack submarine, the INS Chakra, that was leased from Russia, and India is building a nuclear submarine with its own technology that is expected to be in service by 2015.


The commander of the Brazilian Navy, Admiral Julio Soares de Moura Neto, said the purpose of building a nuclear-powered submarine was “deterrence” and stressed that the nuclear propulsion system will be built with entirely home-grown technology that was not transferred by France. The Brazilian-French submarine program was agreed to in 2008 by Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Nicolas Sarkozy and is Brazil’s most costly military project. “Brazil needs to modernize its national defenses because we have not invested in this for years,” said congressman Leonardo Gadelha, of the Social Christian Party, a member of the lower chamber’s International Relations and Defense Committee.

The Brazilian Air Force is seeking to renew its fleet with the purchase of 36 fighter jets, a coveted defense contract worth $4 billion initially. Boeing Co., France’s Dassault Aviation SA and Sweden’s Saab are in the running for the deal. Brazil is also boosting its air defenses, with an eye to dispelling the risk of terrorist attacks when hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists visit the country for the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Brasilia recently announced plans to buy anti-aircraft batteries and mid-range surface-to-air missiles from Russia, and drones from Israel that will be used to patrol its long frontiers. It eventually plans to build the weapons locally. The Brazilian government has insisted on a maximum transfer of technology in such military deals to build up its emerging private defense industry that has become a major arms exporter. “Brazil has fully understood that national defense cannot be delegated to others and a country must have an autonomous capacity” that does not depend on foreign technology, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said at the naval base event. On Wednesday, the defense unit of Brazilian planemaker Embraer SA won its first-ever U.S. military contract for the sale of 20 Super Tucano light attack planes for use in counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Source – World bulletin

Indian Navy set to issue tender for new submarines

Project 75-I

The  Indian Navy is set to “very soon” issue a RfP (request for proposal or tender) for a new line of six submarines with AIP (air independent propulsion) capability.

The requirement has been pending for quite a few years but the proposal for the new line, designated Project 75-I, has now being given firm clearance by the government, according to Indian Navy chief,  Admiral DK Joshi.

Asked how soon is “very soon,” the naval chief told  India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) that the defence acquisition committee (DAC) had already cleared a note on acceptance of necessity (AON), the navy had finalized the RfP and it was in its last stage of formalities for clearance in the defence ministry.

As per procedures, depending on the money involved, AON has to be cleared by a competent authority. If the requirement involves more than Rs 1,000 crores ($200 million ), then it is by the DAC, headed by the defence minister. The approval was accorded just before the Navy Day on December 4, 2012.

AIP increases the mission life of a submarine by around three times, depending upon the task and parameters required. The capability enables a submarine to generate air onboard without the need to surface for breathing to recharge its batteries.

At present, none of the Indian submarines have this capability, and some of them can only be under water for only three to five days. The existing fleet of 14 diesel-electric submarines is rather weak despite the periodic upgrades, although some newer EW (electronic warfare) systems have been installed.

Submarines are about staying underwater as long as possible, and that is why nuclear power is used to keep them submerged for around three months, or to the limits of human endurance.

The new Project 75-I submarines should be huge in value, estimated at around $10 billion-plus, depending upon the offsets and transfer of technology (ToT).

At present, six new Scorpenes under Project 75 are being built for more than 5% billion (Rs 23,562 crore) by the state-run Mazagon Dock Ltd. (MDL) under licence from the French DCNS company.

MDL is also hoping to get the new Project 75-I line but it has substantial work in hand for years — 14 ships in addition to the six Scorpenes. The experience gained in building the Scorpenes though should be extremely useful and must not get wasted.

AIP is also being considered for the last two of the existing line of Scorpenes by installing plugs — about eight meters in length and the same diameter as that of the submarine. Admiral Joshi said that the (Defence Research and Development Organisation) DRDO was working on building these plugs, but that if this entailed delay, “we will not wait”.

The Scorpene project is already late by three years, with the first submarine scheduled to be out in June 2015 — instead of 2012 — and the last in September 2018.

DCNS has offered to build the plugs and some negotiations have taken place with it. Nonetheless, DRDO’s Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) at Ambernath in Maharashtra is working on the project to bring in some  indigenous capability and content.

About the Project 75-I,  defence ministry sources said that its Department of Defence Production was working on fine-tuning some features like Who-Will-Do-What among the Indian shipyards and the suppliers in terms of sub-systems and weapons. Details on offsets and ToT, which have a sizeable bearing on the costs, are also being given the last touches.

Notably, the defence offsets policy mandates a minimum investment of 30 per cent to be put back in a related defence industrial venture in India, but in the biggest defence contract that is now being negotiated for the French Rafale multi role combat aircraft (MRCA), this figure is 50 per cent.

As per indications, the RfP for the submarines should be out even in January 2013, or latest by March before the financial year 2012-13 ends.

The Indian Navy’s current fleet of conventional diesel-electric submarines is quite old.

There are four HDW Shishumar class submarines acquired from Germany and 10 Kilo Sindhughosh class from Russia, both from 1986 onwards. The service life of a submarine is estimated at around 20 years, but because of political indecision after the allegations over the purchase of Bofors guns from  Sweden, the modernization process of the Navy — along with that of the Army and Indian Air Force — suffered.

In 1998, the then naval chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, projected a requirement of a 24-submarine fleet in the navy’s long-term vision for 30 years. In 1999, the Cabinet committee on security (CCS) — the apex body headed by the prime minister — approved the plan for their indigenous construction in two lines.

The Scorpenes are being built in India to gain experience and indigenous support capability. India had gained some earlier with the induction of HDW boats but as there was no follow-on programme, that experience was lost and all those involved in the project have retired.

The only direct submarine acquisition of the Indian Navy after the HDW and Kilo submarines is that of the single nuclear power attack submarine (SSN) INS Chakra from  Russia in 2012. There are also some technical issues with it, and during his recent to New Delhi, Russian President  Vladimir Putin promised to have them sorted out ASAP.

An SSN is a nuclear propelled but not nuclear armed submarine. The conventionally-powered diesel electric submarines are knows as the SSK class.

Source – The Times of India