India has issued a Request for Proposals (RfP) for the construction of six diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) in which two shortlisted domestic shipyards must each enter into a strategic partnership with one of five overseas original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) before bidding for a contract valued at about A$7.82 billion.
The classified RFP for Project 75 (I) issued on 20 July requires state-owned company Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) and private-sector firm Larsen & Toubro to partner with either Naval Group (France), ThyssenKrupp Systems (Germany), Rubin Design Bureau (Russia), Darwoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (South Korea), or Navantia (Spain).
The P-75 (I) program was initially approved by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2007 and then again in 2022 and is the first such project proceeding under the Strategic Partnership (SP) category of India’s Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020.
Describing the five OEMs as the world leaders in the field of conventional submarine design, construction and all other related technologies, the MoD said the OEMs would transfer technologies to enable the establishment of dedicated manufacturing lines for the new submarines “and make India the global hub for submarine design and production”.
The project also envisages associated shore and engineering support, together with training and spares packages.
The SSKs will be fitted with contemporary equipment and sensors, fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems and feature advanced torpedoes, modern missiles and state-of-the-art countermeasure systems, the MoD said.
According to one unconfirmed report, indigenisation will include arming the SSKs with the Indian-developed Brahmos medium-range supersonic cruise missile.
Indian media said final selection and contract signature would take at least two years, with delivery of the first-of-type around 2030.
Project P-75 (I) will follow on from completion of the ongoing Project 75 in which MDL has been licence-building six 1,775-tonne (when submerged) Kalvari (Scorpene)-class SSKs in collaboration with Naval Group.
All six Kalvari-class boats are expected to be in service by early 2023.