Before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi On a planned visit to France, the French defense major Naval Group has announced that it cannot participate in the P-75 India (P-75I) project under which six conventional submarines are to be built in India for the Indian Navy.
The group, one of five international players shortlisted for the Rs 43,000 crore project, said it could not meet the requirements of the request for proposals (RFP) and would therefore not go ahead with its bid.
The project is the largest under the new strategic partnership model which will see an international OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) partner with an Indian company to manufacture submarines in India and share technology.
The P-75I is the second submarine construction project in India – Naval Group has just completed the construction of six conventional Kalvari-class (Scorpene-class) submarines under the P-75 project in partnership with Mazagon Dockyard Shipbuilding Limited (MDL) in India. The P-75 project was signed in 2005 (Naval Group was then called DCNS) and of the six, four submarines have already been put into service in the Marine. The sixth in the class was launched last month and is expected to enter service late next year.
In an April 30 statement, Laurent Videau, Country and Managing Director, Naval Group India, said “this tender requires that the fuel cell AIP be proven at sea, which is not yet the case. for us since the French Navy does not use such a propulsion system.
AIP is an air-independent propulsion technology for conventional submarines. It offers greater endurance, the ability to stay submerged longer and is less noisy than the diesel-electric propulsion system.
Videau said that Naval Group “has always been ready to offer best in class and suitable solution for the Indian Navy’s P75(I) project, fully in line with Aatma Nirbhar Bharat principle.” He said the group will “strengthen our existing commitments and look forward to a closer association with India.”
“Our focus and efforts are to continue our collaboration with Indian industry in realizing the vision of the Government of India by supporting Indian Navy for further development and future projects (maintenance, high tech tools, native AIP, incremental improvements to the Scorpene designed submarine, HWT, larger vessels, etc.),” he said.
The announcement comes days before Prime Minister Modi’s scheduled visit to France on May 4 for a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron who was re-elected last month. In his parting statement, Modi said his meeting with Macron will “reaffirm the close friendship between the two countries” and “also give us the opportunity to set the tone for the next phase of the India-France strategic partnership.”
Naval Group’s withdrawal from the process raised concerns about the P-75I project. Despite becoming the first of five shortlisted outfitters to publicly pull out of the race, sources said outfitters from Russia and Spain were also not participating effectively despite making no announcement of this guy so far.
The government released the tender for the project in July last year – five shortlisted OEMs are to partner with one of India’s shortlisted Strategic Partners (SPs) to bid to manufacture the submarines.
The shortlisted SPs are Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) who must bid with one of five foreign OEMs – Naval Group (France), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), JSC ROE (Russia), Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd (South Korea) and Navantia (Spain).
Sources said Naval Group cited the problem of the sea-proven AIP fuel cell demonstration for its failure to continue. But some of the OEMs, the sources said, are not comfortable sharing their expertise and niche technology with Indian partners.
Regarding the project, the government, at the time it issued the tender, stated that it “envisaged the local construction of six modern conventional submarines (including associated shore support, engineering support, training and spares kit) with contemporary equipment, weapons and sensors, including Air Independent Propulsion Plant (AIP) fuel, advanced torpedoes, modern missiles and state-of-the-art countermeasures systems. This would give a major boost to India’s indigenous submarine design and construction capability, apart from bringing the latest submarine technologies and designs into the project.