The Ministry of Defense on Friday authorized a project worth ₹43,000 crore for the construction of six advanced submarines in the country under the government’s “strategic partnership” (SP) model to bolster the submarine force levels of the Indian Navy and counter the rapid expansion of China’s submarine fleet, Defense Ministry officials said.
The Defense Acquisition Board (DAC), India’s supreme procurement body, approved the proposal at a meeting on Friday and the Navy is expected to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) for the program soon. , called P-75 India, officials said.
This will be the first tender to be released under the SP model, which aims to boost the government’s Make in India program, one of the officials cited above said. The model envisions the local manufacture of major defense platforms by a strategic Indian partner who will work with a foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to set up production facilities in the country.
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The new submarines will be fitted with air independent propulsion systems (AIP) that will allow ships to stay underwater longer and improve their combat capabilities, a second official said.
In January 2020, the Defense Ministry authorized two Indian and five foreign shipbuilders to participate in the country’s high-tech submarine construction project, one of the largest Make in India programs in the military sector.
The Indian strategic partners authorized to collaborate with foreign OEMs are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited and L&T. The foreign yards with which they can partner for the project are the French Naval Group, the German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, the Russian Rubin Design Bureau, the Spanish Navantia and the South Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company.
The ministry will move the project forward by launching calls for tenders to preselected Indian strategic partners who will then respond with technical-commercial offers in collaboration with one of the preselected equipment manufacturers. In exceptional cases, rules allow the Indian strategic partner to submit technical-commercial offers in collaboration with two equipment manufacturers.
The next steps in the long process will include opening and evaluation of technical bids, testing, staff assessment, opening of commercial bids from companies that are technically compliant with the call for bids and finally, selection of the strategic partner with the lowest offer.
In August 2018, the DAC authorized a project under the SP model for the construction of 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) to replace the Navy’s obsolete fleet of French-designed Chetak helicopters. But there has been no progress in the worthwhile NUH project ₹21,738 crores.
Headed by the Minister of Defense, the DAC is India’s leading defense procurement agency that assesses and approves procurement proposals made by the armed forces. The other members of the council are the Minister of State for Defense, the Chief of the Defense Staff, the three department heads, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary for Defense Research and Development, the secretary of defense production and the director general of acquisitions.