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Indian Defense Ministry Seeks Shipyards Willing to Build Six New Submarines

© Naval Group (DCNS)Kalvari-class submarine Khanderi, built by Mazagon and DCNS for the Indian Navy
Kalvari-class submarine Khanderi, built by Mazagon and DCNS for the Indian Navy - Sputnik International
The Indian Defense Ministry set in motion last Thursday the process of getting six new submarines built under its new Strategic Partnership program, which aims to increase domestic development by partnering Indian firms with foreign ones to produce military hardware.

The MoD sent “Requests for Expression of Interest” (REols) out to Indian shipyards on June 20, inviting bids to produce six Project 75I-class diesel-electric attack submarines for the country’s navy. The shipyards will have two months to respond, and those that make the cut will be shortlisted as Strategic Partners (SP) under the ministry’s new partnership program inaugurated last year, The Diplomat reported Wednesday.

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“The Indian companies would be shortlisted based on their capability for integration of system of systems, expertise in shipbuilding domain and the financial strength,” the MoD said in a June 20 statement. “The OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] would be shortlisted primarily based on their submarine design meeting the Indian Navy’s Qualitative Requirements and qualifying the Transfer of Technology and Indigenous Content (IC) criteria.”

Potential foreign partners for the contract include Naval Group (France), Kockums (Sweden), Rubin Design Bureau (Russia) and Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Germany), The Diplomat reported.

Procurement of the six Project-75I subs was approved by the Defense Acquisition Council in January, although it’s been in the works since 2007, The Diplomat noted. The new boats are derived from the Kalvari-class submarines, themselves the product of a joint venture between French naval manufacturer DCNS and Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Limited. The total cost of the submarines is projected to be 45,000 crore rupees ($6.5 billion), New Delhi Television reported.

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The purpose of the SP program is to create a vehicle for compliance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” program, which aims to increase the amount of home-grown technology and manufacturing of Indian arms in a bid to minimize dependency on foreign providers.

Under the program, qualifying domestic companies will partner with foreign firms willing to engage in technology transfer. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approves the deal, and specially constituted Empowered Project Committees (EPC) oversee the entire process, the Press Trust of India reported in July 2018.

"This will give a major fillip towards encouraging self-reliance and aligning the defence sector with the 'Make in India' initiative of the Government," the defense ministry said in July 2018, according to PTI.

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