Waiting for P-75I

Rubin Design Bureau is confident about its Amur 1650 offer

Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab

Rubin Design Bureau is confident about its Amur 1650 offer

Kubinka, Moscow Region: With almost Zen-like patience, the deputy director general on foreign activities for Rubin design bureau, Andrei I. Baranov sat inside the conference room of the bustling United Shipbuilding Corporation’s stand at the Show. He smiled easily, and sometimes with a helpless shrug, while talking about Rubin’s interest in India.

“India is our privileged partner,” he began. “Our cooperation dates back to the late Sixties, when the Indian Navy first inducted the Foxtrot class of submarines,” he said. The Foxtrot class, called the Kalvari class in India, was followed by the 10 of the Kilo class, nine of which are still in service, at least officially. Ninth of the class, Sindhurakshak, had a fire accident in 2013 soon after it returned from Russia following an upgrade and sank; taking with it the crew of 18.

Earlier this year, the government approved refit of four more submarines of the Kilo class. The refit will extend their lives by another 10 years. The first boat arrived at the Zvezdochka yard in July 2016 for the process which will take up to two and a half years. The second submarine will go to Russia next year.

“However, for the next two vessels, the Indian ministry of defence (MoD) wants the refit to be done in India,” said Baranov. “We have chosen Larsen & Toubro (L&T) as our partner. Our teams have visited the L&T shipyard in Kattupalli near Chennai. It is an impressive facility, but it will require some modifications to start work on the Kilo class refit. We are talking to them.”

These upgrades will go some distance in maintaining the number of submarines with the Indian Navy, as the crippling effects of the delay in procurement of the second line would start to show in the next couple of years. For the record, Indian Ocean is crawling with submarines; and not all of them are friendly.

Though Baranov insists that Rubin’s priority is to support the Indian fleet of the Kilo class submarines, it is the programme for the next line which has been exercising the design bureau. In the last decade, different teams from Rubin have visited 20 Indian companies, including several shipyards, to assess the feasibility of indigenous submarine construction and support. These included companies like Tata, L&T, Kirloskar etc. Rubin also invited Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to participate in the development of air independent propulsion (AIP).

“But there has been no communication from the Indian Navy for the last two years,” said Baranov.

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