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We are ready to integrate BrahMos missile in our Class 214 Submarine, as we already have the requisite design for the same
Managing director, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, Gurnad Sodhi

Gurnad Sodhi Give us a brief update on your ongoing programmes with the Indian Navy.
As one of the leading European system providers for non-nuclear submarines and high-end naval vessels, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems possesses outstanding expertise in system integration and in the role of prime contractor. We enjoy long-standing strategic ties with India. We have demonstrated our commitment over more than two decades in which the Indian Navy has been operating four HDW Class 209/1500 submarines, locally known as the ‘Shishumar’ class.

At present, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is in discussions with the Indian Navy to support the upgrading of two of these vessels with integration of the latest weapons and sensors, including Harpoon anti-ship missiles and carry out the lifetime extension refits of the other two submarines.

What are your plans in Project 75 (I) programme of the Indian Navy? When do you expect the RFP from the ministry of defence?
We await the Indian ministry of defence (MoD) to issue the P-75 (I) RFP, for which we plan to offer the Type 214 submarine. Besides it is highly regarded anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the HDW Class 214’s proven fuel-cell based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system is the best available in the market and offers exceptional operational advantages combining best-in-class underwater endurance and diving depth to the Indian Navy.

As far as the question of timelines is concerned, we are not in a position to answer since it is the prerogative of the MoD. From our side, we are eagerly awaiting the Request for Proposal (RFP) to come out. From the time the Request for Information (RFI) was issued, we have been regularly interacting with the MoD and Indian Navy and sharing our knowledge and expertise.

Have you selected an Indian partner for this programme?
We are aware that a well-qualified, high level committee has been formed by the MoD and is presently evaluating the Indian shipyards. We will wait for the committee to submit its report. We respect the decision by the MoD in shortlisting the most capable shipyard(s) without any bias. Thereafter, we will commence our detailed negotiations with the shortlisted shipyard(s), public and/or private.

With the Scorpene programme in full swing now, do you expect the P-75(I) programme to move faster as well? According to your estimations, what are the timelines in this programme?
We are not in a position to indicate any timelines as these are MoD’s prerogatives. However, while not commenting on the Scorpene programme, historically, we have always had a very good working relationship with our counterparts here in India and we assure our full commitment to the partnership and are well-equipped to honour timelines. Having said that, we await the RFP to be issued to Indian shipyards.

What are the unique features of HDW class 214 submarine and why do you think this submarine will be the best option for the Indian Navy in P-75(I)?
In addition to what I have already said earlier, there are three distinct advantages of our unique AIP system:

First, fuel-cells are inherently noiseless, making them ideal for submarine operations under silent conditions. Second, it is the only AIP system worldwide that does not emit any exhaust gas. This allows HDW’s AIP to perform in a ‘closed boat’ environment; its only by-product is distilled water. This is used on-board and helps to drastically improve the quality of life for all the crew, since fresh water is a scarce commodity on board all conventional submarines. Third, the efficiency of the HDW AIP is at least twice than that of any other AIP type.

Finally, it is sea-proven. HDW’s AIP system is already operational in more than 10 submarines and has been contracted for more than 20 more. HDW Class 214 is widely acknowledged to be the most advanced AIP system available in the world market.

A robust partnership with Indian shipyards, including extensive offset activities and transfer of technology (ToT), would form the core of TKMS’ offer for the expected P-75(I) tender. Historically, no shipyard in the world has more experience in designing and constructing conventional submarines than ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

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