The bilateral ties between India and France have seen a major boost in recent years. Following the landmark Rafale deal, New Delhi is now set to acquire new submarines from the French shipbuilder Naval Group.
Citing a source, a Nikkei Asia report said that the French shipbuilder will make an offer in line with the ‘Make in India’ initiative for a proposal to make P75I class submarines for the Indian Navy.
Reportedly, a meeting was held in September between the French Defense Minister Florence Parly and her Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh where the Indo-French defense cooperation was discussed. “One of these is the P75I submarines tender,” said the source cited in the report.
According to Harsh V Pant, chief of the Strategic Studies Programme, Observer Research Foundation talking to Nikkei Asia, the deal is expected to be worth a whopping 420 billion rupees ($5.6 billion).
The report added that the tender seeks to build six stealth submarines with air-independent propulsion technology that would have a longer submerged range than subs already possessed by the Indian Navy.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, New Delhi has already picked Larsen & Toubro and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders as two Indian firms. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) invited RFP (request for proposal) from five foreign manufacturers including ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Rubin Design Bureau (Russia), Navantia (Spain), Naval Group (France), and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (South Korea).
P-75I will become the first project to be launched under the Strategic Partnership (SP) policy initiated by the current government in May 2017 to give a boost to ‘Make in India’. The submarine project or other SP projects won’t be affected by the MoD import arms embargo.
Reportedly, the MoD requested information and data regarding the following capabilities of the proposed design of the submarine:
:: maximum diving depth without limitation on the number of dives.
:: maximum operating range (dived-snort-surface) and mission endurance.
:: air-independent propulsion system being offered.
:: surface displacement and reserve buoyancy.
:: indiscretion rate.
:: seawater specific gravity operating range.
:: torpedo tubes with the capability to launch long-range, heavyweight, wire-guided torpedoes, missiles, and methods for weapon discharge.
:: externally launched torpedo decoy system.
:: integrated combat system (details of prospective suppliers to be provided).
:: contemporary low noise propulsion and power generation system.
:: auxiliary motors with take home capability.
:: contemporary IPMS, SMCS, APMS.
:: AC system customized for operation in tropical waters characterized by high temperature and high humidity conditions.
India is expected to develop an indigenous submarine program (P-76) after the transfer of technology by the French manufacturer.
Another such defense deal, after India celebrated the arrival of its first five French Rafale fighters in July another three fighter jets landed on Wednesday at the Ambala airbase, is expected to boost bilateral ties between India and France.
New Delhi chose the French Dassault Rafale fighters over American jets. According to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, France moved to India’s third-largest arms supplier from eighth from 2010 to 2014, trailing only after Russia and Israel.
The ties between the two have grown leaps and bound, not just in defense cooperation but the leaders of both the countries have shown immense support for each other. Last year, speaking at UNESCO in Paris, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said:
“Today in the 21st century, we talk of INFRA. I would like to say that for me it is IN+FRA, which means the alliance between India and France.” France has also endorsed India for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.
A display of solidarity was seen recently when New Delhi condemned attacks on French President Emmanuel Macron over his statements in support of the publication of controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
In an official statement, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said: “We strongly deplore the personal attacks in unacceptable language on President Emmanuel Macron in violation of the most basic standards of international discourse.”