And it Begins

Russians are gung-ho about Indian Navy’s P-75I submarine programme

A FORCE Report

General director Rubin Design Bureau Igor Vilnit
General director Rubin Design Bureau Igor Vilnit

St Petersburg, Russia: On 26 September 2017, Admiralty Shipyard of Russia will celebrate 50 years of its cooperation with the Indian Navy, marking the sale of the first of the Foxtrot class of submarine in 1967.

In an interaction with Indian journalists during a press visit to Admiralty Shipyard, general director, Admiralty Shipyard, Alexander Buzakov, began the conversation by underlining this fact. “We have had the longest cooperation with the Indian Navy,” he said. The sale of the Foxtrot submarines was followed up by 10 of the Kilo class starting 1985. The last of these were delivered in 2000; with nine still operational with the Indian Navy.

It is this history that is adding to Buzakov’s confidence as far as Indian Navy’s Project 75 India (P-75I) submarines are concerned. “We are looking forward to more cooperation with India,” he said three weeks before the navy issued the long-awaited Request for Information (RFI) for the indigenous submarine programme P-75I. Of the six submarines sought by the Indian Navy under P-75I, the RFI stipulates that ‘two submarines be built at collaborators’ shipyard; and four submarines at two Indian shipyards,’ which will be nominated by the government of India. Admiralty Shipyard, which constructs the boats based on the design of the Rubin Design Bureau, would be the Russian contenders for the programme.

Since the submarine programme was still in the future at that time (the RFI had not been issued till then), Buzakov’s interest in India was focussed on the sale of a multi-function ship with a submersible vessel of the Bester class. In the defence domain, this ship can be used to rescue submarine crew or supply oxygen to a submarine in distress. In civilian applications, the vessel can be used for seabed exploration. Currently operational with the Pacific fleet of the Russian Navy, the ship visited India last August. Capable of operating in sea state 7, the multi-function ship can adapt to all kinds of water conditions.

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