Seven years and this project has not got even started and now the Navy has accepted that all six submarines will be built in India instead of the earlier plan of importing the first two.
Since 2007 Defense Ministry and Finance Ministry have been playing a game of hide and seek for the Navies project P-75I. Even at the cost of our maritime security which is at its lowest ebb ever with India being down to just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, with only half of them operational at present.
Under this project navy wanted 6 submarines with land attack capability and air-independent propulsion. 2 of which were to be imported and 4 were to be built in-house in joint venture with the foreign vendor and Indian Shipyard. Even the shipyards were identified and ready. According to the original plan three were to be constructed at Mazagon Docks (Mumbai) and one at Hindustan Shipyard (Visakhapatnam) with technology transfer from the foreign company eventually selected.
The Scorpene project is already 4 years late and the first sub will role out may be in 2016.
In desperation the Indian navy has given into the demand of the Government to allow all the submarines to be built in India rather than importing the first two.
Even if the RFP is issued this year it will take another 3 years for the contract and another 7-8 yeas for the first submarine to be anywhere near operational.
Just compare this to the original plan. According to the envisaged plan, 12 new submarines were to be inducted to the navy by 2012, and was to be supplemented with 12 more submarines by 2030.
Another plan was:
The supersonic Brahmos will also be a principal missile to equip the six Indian Navy Project 75I submarines, for which the Indians are considering the Russian Amur class sub. Another sub being considered is the German Class-214. Plans to install the missile in the fifth and sixth Scorpene class submarines were cancelled after the Indian Navy decided to equip these subs with air independent propulsion (AIP), thus extending the submarine to its maximum length.
All these plans are now sound like castle in the air to me without any dose of realism.
So in order to have enough submarines to defend India’s maritime borders the Indian Navy can opt for 18 Scorpene Submarines, Why?
As mentioned earlier the RFP and production is going to take atleast 11 years, by which time our navies operational capabilities will become next to nothing.
Even if P75I selection is done by 2018 the first submarine will role out only by 2026 atleast and by that time Indian Navy will be left with just 6 Scorpenes. The 8 of the 13 subs India currently operate are on their last legs and by the time P-75I matures it will be all over for many of them.