Deep Sea Quest
  A case for Russia’s Amur submarine for Indian Navy’s P-75I programme
Deep Sea Quest  
Moscow: Three recent developments may help the Russians win the ongoing international competition for the Project 75(I): the Russian Navy’s commissioning of the Saint Petersburg, big domestic orders placed with the nation’s largest submarine builder — Sevmash and preparations for underwater trials of the BrahMos cruise missile.

In the middle of 2010, Indian defence minister A.K. Antony gave approval for the Project 75(I), calling for procurement of six conventional (non-nuclear) submarines for USD 10.7 billion. While two vessels are to be constructed in the collaborator country, the remaining four are scheduled to be built in India, under license.

According to the defence procurement practices, suitable companies from major exporting countries were invited to bid. They were forwarded Request for Information (RFI) in the second half of 2010 and the request for proposal (RFP) is expected in the middle of 2012. If things move on time, the results are expected by 2014, and the delivery of the first vessel by 2016-2017.

Four contenders — Rosoboronexport of Russia, Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) of Germany, DCNS of France and Navantia of Spain — are offering Amur 1650, Type 214, Scorpene and S-80 respectively. According to the RFI, circle of possible options was confined to those designs that were based on prototypes in existence.

The Russian Navy operates the Saint Petersburg, head vessel of the Project 677 design, codenamed Lada. The Amur 1650 is the latter’s export derivative. The German Navy operates Type 212 U-boats, from which the Type 214 was derived for export purposes. The French Navy operates only nuclear-powered submarines, but DCNS has already delivered a pair of Scorpene submarines to Chile, another pair to Malaysia and is supplying six to India under license-production contract with Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL). Navantia’s product does not meet the above requirement, but this may change soon as the Spanish Navy takes delivery of its first S-80, now under construction some time in 2013-2015.

The Indian Navy operates four Shishumar class submarines of the German Type 209 and 10 Russian-built Project 877EKM attributed to the Sindhughosh class. It use to have eight older Russian submarines, but the last of those, the INS Vagli, retired in 2011 after 36 years of service. Of the existing fleet, only four submarines are expected to remain operational in 2020 and none in 2025.
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