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The Hindu
The Hindu
Dinakar Peri

DPSU MDL and German TKMS team up to bid for Navy’s mega submarine deal

Public sector defence shipyard Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and German Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) on Wednesday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for partnering in submarine production in the presence of German Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius in Mumbai. They will now jointly bid for the Navy’s Project-75I to build six advanced submarines in India estimated over ₹45,000 crore.

“According to the MoU, TKMS would contribute to the engineering and design of the submarines as well as the consultancy support to this joint project and MDL would take responsibility for constructing and delivering the respective submarines,” a release from TKMS said. The construction of the submarines would take place in India and is expected to have significant local content, it stated.

The P-75I is being executed under the Strategic Partnership model of Defence Acquisition Procedure and the Request For Proposal (RFP) was originally issued in July 2021 to MDL and Larsen & Toubro with 12 weeks’ time to respond and has since seen several extensions, the latest deadline being August 2023. Officials expressed confidence that the stalled process will move forward.

The project ran into rough weather, among other issues over one of the specifications mentioned, that the submarine on offer should have an operational Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) module with an endurance of two weeks. In addition, the OEMs had also raised the issue of unlimited liability on them. The Defence Acquisition Council has since cleared some of the issues, though the companies say that concerns still remain. Only Germany and South Korea technically meet the criteria, though Daewoo has internal administrative issues among others which could make the deal a single-vendor situation, as reported by The Hindu earlier.

Mr. Pistorius who is on a four-day visit to India held talks with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh on Tuesday during which progress of the P-75I deal was discussed. Pitching for concrete cooperation projects, he said the submarine deal could become a “flagship project” while stating that the German industry is at a good place in the race. As reported earlier, Germany is looking to propose an Inter-Governmental Agreement for the submarine sale at some stage.

An AIP module acts as a force multiplier as it enables conventional submarines to remain submerged for longer duration thereby increasing their endurance and reducing chances of detection. An indigenously developed AIP module is set to be installed on the Scorpene submarines as they go for refit from 2024 onwards.

Indian Navy operates the older German HDW submarines procured in the 1980s, two of which were built in India under technology transfer.

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