Force Magazine

Towards Self-Reliance

The government is in the process of finalising a strategic partner for P-75(I) programme

Dilip Kumar Mekala

November 2016 will mark 30 years of existence of the Indian Navy’s Submarine Design Group which functions under the Directorate of Naval Design (DND). Assessing the progress made in the last three decades, Vice Admiral G.S. Pabby, Indian Navy’s controller of warship production and acquisition, said that the time has come for India to take a major step towards building submarines indigenously by forging strategic partnership with Indian industry. With the focus on ‘Make in India’, the Indian Navy is making all efforts to establish a stable submarine construction industry.

However, the road to self reliance in the submarine manufacturing is a long and arduous one. “Submarine is comparable in complexity to space shuttle. The difference is that it is bigger in size and has to handle 30 times more pressure as compared to the space shuttle”, said Rear Admiral C.S. Rao of the Submarine Design Group as he provided an insight into the challenges ahead. However, with programmes like P-75 Scorpene and P-75(I), the Indian industry could get the necessary business and motivation to invest their resources in submarine building.

Unlike the P-75 programme where Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) is working closely with French manufacturer DCNS on a fixed design (Scorpene), the P-75(I) will be a completely Indian design. Which means the Indian Navy will have a higher flexibility on the design of the submarine. The scale of the project will also ensure that the Indian private industry will have a golden opportunity to establish a base for submarine construction in India.

The most important step for the P-75(I) programme is to establish a strategic partnership from the industry. When asked whether the government has decided in this regard, Pabby said, “It should have been done by now, but we realised the process was more complicated than we earlier imagined. The defence ministry is working hard to take a decision on this quickly”. In the P-75(I) programme, the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system will be indigenous. Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been working on the AIP technology. “There is plenty of opportunity for the private industry to design, qualify and integrate AIP system in the P-75(I) programme”, said Pabby.

G.S. Pabby
Vice Admiral G.S. Pabby, Indian Navy’s controller of warship production and acquisition during the seminar
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