Germany plans to build 6 new submarines in ₹43,000 crore deal with India.

Germany on Tuesday pitched for building six advanced submarines in India under the government’s strategic partnership (SP) model, to boost the Indian Navy’s undersea strength, during talks, between defence minister Rajnath Singh and his German counterpart Boris Pistorius, aimed at bolstering bilateral defence cooperation with a sharp focus on stronger industrial partnerships, people aware of the matter said.

The project, called P-75 India, is one of the biggest Make in India programmes.

“The Germans are enthusiastic about their participation in the P-75I competition to build submarines in the country. The Indian side welcomed their participation,” said one of the officials cited above, asking not to be named.

Both leaders reviewed the ongoing bilateral defence cooperation and explored ways to strengthen collaboration, particularly in defence industrial partnerships, the Indian defence ministry said in a statement. Pistorius’s India visit is the first by a German defence minister in eight years. To be sure, the official statement made no mention of P-75I.

India cleared the estimated 43,000 crore project two years ago to strengthen the navy’s capabilities and provide momentum to the defence indigenisation drive, one of the government’s key priorities.

The SP model envisages indigenous manufacturing of major defence platforms by an Indian strategic partner who will collaborate with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to set up production facilities in the country.

“We are talking about a deal of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) for six submarines, but the procedure is not finished yet. I think the German industry is at a good place in that (P-75I) race,” Pistorius told German reporters accompanying him. He arrived in India on Monday on a four-day visit.

In January 2020, the defence ministry cleared two Indian and five foreign shipbuilders, including German conglomerate TKMS, to take part in P-75I.

The Indian strategic partners cleared to collaborate with the foreign OEMs are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and L&T. The foreign yards cleared for partnerships included the French Naval Group, Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau, Spain’s Navantia and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company.

P-75I, first talked about more than two decades ago, has moved at a notoriously slow pace. It was a part of the 30-year submarine-building programme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security in 1999.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) is likely to be concluded by TKMS and state-run Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders during Pistorius’s visit to Mumbai on Wednesday, people familiar with the matter said.

Such an agreement would be a step towards the two firms bidding for the multibillion-dollar submarine deal.

Pistorius told German state broadcaster ARD on Tuesday that his role is limited to assisting in negotiations between German defence firms and Indian counterparts. “This would be a big and important contract not only for German industry but also for India and the Indian-German strategic partnership,” Pistorius said, speaking in German.

The German side believes TKMS is one of the main contenders for the submarine deal following the withdrawal of France’s Naval Group and Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau a year ago. South Korea’s Daewoo is also in the fray, but the submarine pitched by it is reportedly based on a German design.

Submarines built under P-75I will be equipped with air independent propulsion (AIP) systems that will enable the vessels to stay underwater for longer periods and enhance their combat capabilities. A minimum 45% indigenisation has to be ensured by the strategic partner in P-75I in the first submarine, with the indigenous content going up to 60% in the sixth, the officials said.

The project will take time to mature. If all goes well after a contract is awarded to one of the contenders, the first submarine will be delivered to the navy only after a decade, the officials said.

With P-75I being cleared in 2021, the country took a step forward towards achieving the goals of its 30-year submarine construction programme. The navy plans to operate a fleet of 18 new conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered boats. The government approved the plan to build six nuclear-powered submarines in 2015, tweaking the 1999 submarine-building programme. Also, it plans to operate a fleet of four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

India and Germany have a strategic partnership since 2000, which has been strengthened through inter-governmental consultations at the level of heads of government since 2011.

In his talks with Pistorius, Singh highlighted new opportunities in the defence production sector, including the possibility of German investments in the country’s two defence industrial corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The Indian defence industry could participate in the supply chains of German defence industry and add value to the ecosystem, besides contributing to supply chain resilience, the ministry statement said.

Singh stressed “India and Germany could build a more symbiotic relationship based on shared goals and complementarity of strength, namely skilled workforce and competitive costs from India, and high technologies and investment from Germany,” it added.

Ahead of his arrival in New Delhi, Pistorius said India’s continuing dependence on Russian weapons is not in Germany’s interest. He told state-owned broadcaster DW that Germany is open to the sale of submarines to India.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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