Under the banner of “containing Chinese submarines infiltrating the Indian Ocean”, the Indian Navy began a new round of submarine expansion. According to the “The Print” report on the 4th June, twenty-one years after it was first envisaged, the defence ministry Friday cleared the issuance of the formal tender for the Project 75 India (P75I), under which six new conventional submarines with air independent propulsion (AIP) systems are to be built. The decision was taken by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh-led Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
This ambitious project is touted by India as the “mother of all underwater combat platform transactions.” The Indian Navy is planning to build a huge underwater force consisting of 18 conventional submarines and 6 nuclear-powered submarines.
One of the largest “Made in India” projects
According to the report, the Indian Ministry of Defense declared that this is a “milestone event”. India will spend about 43,000 cr rupees (about 5.8 billion US dollars) in cooperation with foreign countries to build 6 new-generation conventional submarines in the country. “This submarine procurement case, called P-75(I), will become one of the largest ‘made in India’ projects and is essential to counter China’s rapidly expanding blue water capabilities.”
It is said that the new submarines that the Indian Navy is preparing to purchase will have the world’s top level advanced technology: like advanced underwater stealth capabilities, stronger ability to suppress noise and acoustic signal transmission; equipped with advanced air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, It can significantly improve the underwater endurance and combat range; at the same time, it is also equipped with torpedoes and vertical launch systems, which can carry the Indian-made BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. To this end, India is negotiating with submarine manufacturers in South Korea, Germany, France, Russia, Spain and other countries. But the report admits that this may be a rather long process.
Currently, India is vigorously pursuing “defense independence”, and the P-75(I) project is no exception. According to the plan, the first submarine will be in service in 10 years, the localization rate of the equipment on the boat will reach 45%, and the sixth submarine must realize the localization of 60% of the equipment. If the Indian Navy is satisfied with the first batch of six submarines, it may continue to purchase six additional submarines in the future.
P-75 (I) is the core project in India’s ambitious “30-year submarine force renewal plan” and can be called the “mother of all underwater combat platform transactions.” Currently, India has only 15 conventional submarines, 10 of which have been in service for more than 25 years. “It is very difficult to intercept Chinese submarines entering the Indian Ocean.” In order to change this passive situation, the Indian Navy has previously promoted the P-75 project and spent US$3.3 billion to purchase 6 French “Scorpion” class conventional submarines. However, the project was not progressing smoothly. After years of delay, the first submarine “Kalvari” did not enter service until December 2017. The Indian side began its own construction after obtaining the relevant technology transfer. On March 10 this year, the third “Karanj” submarine was officially put into service. While 2 are in sea trials and last one is under construction.
However, the Indian Navy believes that this is not enough. According to India’s “30-year submarine force renewal plan”, the future Indian submarine force will consist of 24 submarines, including 18 conventional submarines and 6 nuclear-powered submarines equipped with long-range nuclear missiles to achieve “right Effective deterrence of China and Pakistan”.
Strengthen nuclear submarine construction
While strengthening the construction of conventional submarines, India is also accelerating the advancement of nuclear submarine projects. “The Times of India” quoted a source on the 5th as saying that India has returned the “INS Chakra” nuclear submarine leased from Russia. It is said that outsiders filmed the nuclear submarine passing through the Strait of Malacca under the escort of the Russian Navy and heading towards Vladivostok.
The submarine was launched on June 24, 2006, and was Russia’s most advanced “Akula” class attack nuclear submarine at the time. In 2012, India leased the submarine and renamed it “Chakra”. It is said that Indian crew members have received relevant training and used it to monitor the actions of other warships in the Indian Ocean, “especially Chinese warships.”
According to the plan, the nuclear submarine was supposed to expire in the spring of 2022, but India’s New Delhi TV said that in 2017 the submarine had a collision accident, the bow was knocked into a big hole, and the sonar was seriously damaged. Due to maintenance difficulties, the submarine has been unable to go to sea for normal operations.
However, India has signed a US$3 billion agreement with Russia in 2019 to lease another “Akula” class nuclear submarine for a period of 10 years. The boat will be named “Chakra 3” and will be delivered in 2025.
Regarding India’s domestically produced nuclear submarines, the Indian Strategic Forces Command, which is responsible for managing the country’s strategy and weapons reserves, currently owns a 6000-ton nuclear-powered submarine, the “Enemy Destroyer”.
The nuclear submarine can carry K-15 and K-4 submarine-launched ballistic missiles. The range of the K-15 missile is about 750 kilometers, and the maximum range of the K-4 missile can reach 3,500 kilometers. According to the plan, India will build six nuclear submarines of the same type.