By Indira Guerrero
New Delhi, Jul 8 (EFE).- Spanish state-owned shipbuilding firm Navantia has bid for the construction of six conventional high-tech submarines for the Indian Navy’s Project-75, an ambitious plan that has been on hold for years.
Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and Navantia are two of the contenders for the submarine deal, estimated to be worth over $5 billion dollars, an official from the Indian defense ministry, who asked not to be named, told EFE.
Project-75 India (P75-I), one of India’s most delayed defense plans, has set August 2023 as the deadline for all potential bidders, including Navantia.
In the coming days, the Spanish is expected to throw its hat in the ring in partnership with Larsen & Toubro (L&T), one of the two Indian companies chosen for the construction of submarines through a tie-up, an official privy to the negotiations told EFE.
Navantia has been in the race for the contract since the information was first made public in 2008.
Others vying for the bid were TKMS, Rubin Design Bureau of Russia, the French Naval Group and Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering (DSME) of Korea, when the deadline for offers was set for 2020, which was later extended.
The demand for Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) technology, which allows a submarine to operate without emerging to the surface, left most foreign manufacturers out of the race, including Navantia.
The AIP requirement led the French firm to pull out, while Spain re-entered the race in September 2021 accepting the demands and asking for time for underwater testing of the propeller.
Navantia is bidding for the P75-I project with the S80 Plus, a unique model of AIP submarine of 3,000 tons, one of the requirements of the Indian Navy.
The P75-I is highly demanding, with unique requirements that are higher than similar equipment available, which would require a redesign process, with contemporary equipment, weapons and sensors, including the AIP, and modern missiles.
It also requires indigenous manufacture of platforms, transfer of technology for the design, manufacture, and maintenance of submarines.
P75-I, underway for 15 years, received a boost with the arrival in government of the current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
This coincided with India’s concern over the stationing of Chinese submarines in neighboring Sri Lanka at a time of strong tension between Beijing and New Delhi.
India also seeks to diversify its agreements for defense equipment, so far heavily dependent on Russia.
Spain, on its part, has presented itself as an ally that does not compromise India’s strategic interest, which includes containing the increasing Chinese influence in the region. EFE