India Submarine Import and Export Behavior

Discussion in 'Indian Navy' started by arnabmit, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2012
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    India Submarine Import and Export Behavior




    Historically, as India became increasingly interested in technology transfer and local production, the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to pursue such cooperation led the country back to Western partners. In 1981, India selected a proposal from Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) over rival offers from France’s DCN, Sweden’s Kockums, the Netherland’s Nevesbu, and Vickers in the United Kingdom to deliver four Shishumar-class (Type 209/1500) diesel boats with an option for an additional two units.

    As part of the deal, the first two units were to be made in Germany and the second pair to be constructed locally from material kits. In 1984, India decided to execute its option for two further vessels, which were to be built locally. However, allegations of corruption and a lack of cooperation from HDW in the resulting investigation led India to cease its relationship with the German shipyard in 1988.

    Soviet Union/Russia

    Coinciding with the procurement of the Shishumar class, India decided to acquire six Kilo-class (Project 877) or Sindhughosh-class boats from the Soviet Union in 1983. The protracted construction process of the Shishumar class, as a result of welding problems, initially led India to increase its order for Kilo-class vessels by four, an order later decreased to just two additional submarines. However, in 1997 New Delhi ordered two further Kilo-class boats, bringing the total number of vessels for this class to ten. All of the Indian Kilos are being progressively fitted with the Novator Alfa Klub/SS-N-27 cruise missile system at Russia’s Zvezdochka shipyard. Both the anti-ship and land attack versions of the missile are being installed on the boats. There have, however, been some problems with the refits and in 2008 India refused to accept one of the Kilos – INS Sindhuvijay – until the shipyard addressed technical failures of the newly installed land-attack Klub missile system.

    On August 14, 2013, a series of explosions tore through the INS Sindhurakshak, the ninth of India’s ten Sindhughosh-class submarines. As a result of the blasts, which were caused by unintentional weapons detonations, a fire broke out onboard, and the submarine sank at its berth. The boat had recently returned from an extensive upgrade in Russia and was docked in Mumbai at the time of the accident. Eighteen sailors perished after being trapped in the submerged hull of the vessel. Official sources have stated that it is “highly unlikely” that the Sindhurakshak will be repaired and returned to service.

    In addition to the diesel-powered attack submarines, India leased a Project 670 Skat (NATO designation Charlie I) class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine (SSGN) from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991 for training in the operation of a nuclear submarine. In 2004, given delays in the development of its indigenous nuclear submarine program, India filled the gap by signing a $900 million agreement for a Russian Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO name Akula II) class nuclear attack submarine, the INS Chakra, which was inducted into the navy in April 2012 on a 10-year lease.


    France’s DCNS was able to break into the Indian submarine market in late 1999, signing a memorandum of understanding with India on the local construction of six Scorpène-class vessels in 2001. A corresponding contract with an option for an additional six vessels was drawn up in early 2004 and signed on 6 October 2005. After previous allegations of corruption in significant defense contracts, India required the Central Vigilance Commission to examine the documents; nevertheless, there have been allegations of irregularities associated with the contract. All of the units are to be co-produced in India at Mazagon Docks Ltd. (MDL) under the terms of a technology transfer. MDL completed construction of the hulls for the first two Scorpènes in late 2010. Although initially planned for 2012, the delivery of the first submarine has been deferred several times. It is now expected to take place in late 2016.

    Recent Developments

    India is presumably interested in establishing a second production line in order to minimize its dependency on any one exporter. In February 2011, India announced its plans to issue tenders for six additional diesel-electric submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) for stealth and increased time underwater. New Delhi hopes that four of the submarines will be constructed indigenously under a transfer of technology, and has solicited bids from Rosoboronexport of Russia, DCNS/Armaris of France, HDW of Germany, Kockums of Sweden, and Navantia of Spain. Russia has offered India its Amur-1650 class, a fourth-generation stealth submarine. While Russia has not engaged in the licensed production of India’s submarines in the past, it has successfully cooperated in the development of other defense equipment, notably the BrahMos PJ-10 cruise missile. It remains to be seen whether India will be able to negotiate a similar degree of cooperation and technology transfer from Russia on submarines as well. As of June 2013, however, the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security had still not approved the tender for the submarines. Defense Minister A K Antony is investigating the reasons for the delay and has urged government officials to expedite the process.

    Mazagon Docks Ltd. (MDL)

    India’s policy of “self-reliance” advocates the development of indigenous capabilities, especially in high-technology areas, but calls for direct purchases to fulfill immediate procurement needs. As a bridge between foreign procurement and indigenous production, New Delhi has continued to pursue licensed production, emphasizing greater design and development input by India. Having experienced some welding difficulties in the assembly of the German-designed boats, India observed its neighbor Pakistan producing French submarines locally, albeit with considerable delays. This capability development on the Pakistani side is likely to have added further impetus to India’s bid to reacquire a local construction capacity.

    In addition to pursuing joint design and development projects with France and Russia on submarines and other weapons systems, India has been slowly tapping into another major source of investment for its defense industry: its private sector. In the past, the defense industry had been closed to private interests. However, India recently allowed the acquisition of up to 100% of the shares in defense companies by private companies, and foreign direct investment of up to 26%. By opening its defense sector to private and foreign investment, India plans to become globally competitive and self-reliant in defense procurement.

    State-owned Mazagon Docks Ltd. MDL was selected by the Indian government as a site for the construction of the Shishumar-class vessels. The 1981 contract with HDW included the training of specialists in the design and construction of submarines. After termination of the HDW contract, MDL’s submarine-building capacities remained unused for years, as the Kilo-class submarines were produced in the Soviet Union and later Russia.

    The private Indian company Larsen and Toubro (L&T) has also reportedly made inroads towards becoming a partner of MDL in the construction of submarines. A senior L&T official stated that the company would be part of the “overall submarine program,” which would be a joint effort between the two companies. L&T is said to have been in discussions with foreign companies to “develop required expertise” that would allow it to partake in Indian submarine development projects. The company is a partner in the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to build a series of nuclear submarines for the Indian Navy. According to a press release, L&T made “the single largest contribution in the construction” of the first vessel, INS Arihant, having designed and built the hull and conducted other engineering work.


    In order to attract investors, Indian officials have expressed a pronounced interest in exporting weapons systems. It is likely that this goal will be pursued in the submarine sector as well. According to one 2011 projection, the Asia-Pacific region surpassed the non-U.S. NATO market to become the second largest naval market for new construction over the next 20 years, with India as the largest spender. Therefore, it would be economically prudent for India to utilize its geographic position and political ties in order to market jointly developed vessels.

    Cooperation similar to that between HDW, Turkey’s Gölcük Shipyard, and the Turkish Naval Forces is possible. In the late 1990s, these three parties joined efforts in a bid for the Malaysian Navy’s submarine acquisition program. The Turkish Navy offered used submarines for training purposes, while new vessels were to be produced by HDW and the Gölcük Shipyard. Another possibility is that Indian yards will refit boats for other navies, as South Korea overhauled Indonesian Type 209/1200 units. Regardless, it is unlikely that India will repeat its earlier mistake and allow its capabilities to lay idle. Instead, it should be expected that the technology transfers and commercial relationships resulting from this and future procurement decisions will allow India to meet its own defense needs over time. Whether this will be in conjunction with foreign companies or solely with domestic private investment remains to be seen.

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

    Feb 16, 2009
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    I hope kockums of Sweden wins this deal for any stop gap subs.
  4. Dinesh_Kumar

    Dinesh_Kumar Regular Member

    Jun 20, 2013
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    I hope we realize that license production wont give us skill in making our own products........lets start small by building mini subs.

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