Project-75I is laying Road-map for Successor Project-76
The P75I project is part of a 30-year submarine building plan that ends in 2030. As part of this plan, India was to build 24 submarines — 18 conventional submarines and six nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) — as an effective deterrent against China and Pakistan.
Of the 14 conventional submarines India currently possesses, including the Scorpene, only half are operational at any given point of time. India also has two nuclear-powered submarines — INS Arihant (SSBN, a ballistic missile submarine) and INS Chakra (SSN, a nuclear-powered one) leased from Russia.
The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian navy. Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire 6 diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems to enable them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.
The six new submarines for the P-75I project is the next phase of the same submarine project and will be worth over $ 11.10 billion. According to the Indian Navy, the new submarines will differ from the earlier lot since the qualitative requirements have been altered. The new submarines will have air-independent propulsion (AIP) to enable sustenance under water for longer duration. In addition, there will be advanced detection range and combat management system besides better sensors for optimum performance. The weapon system would be a mix of torpedoes and missiles.
India is determined to make sure that the production of Six next-generation submarines comes with the highest indigenous content that will be a perfect road-map for the development of Project-76 the successor program which Indian Navy Bureau will be in charge of the design and development of indigenous conventional submarine post-Project-75 I.
Four contenders in the Project-75I have been recently notified that winning bidder will have to use local, DMR 249A steel plates developed by the State-run Steel Authority of India (SAIL), which will negate import of military grade steel from abroad, and also will come handy in the development of future local submarines.
Among other things, the navy has asked for the indigenisation of pressure hull steel, introduction of indigenous Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) module, and the integration of home-grown torpedos and submarine-launched cruise missile on its Project-75 (I) submarines to increase the level of indigenous content.
DRDO developed Air-independent propulsion (AIP) will not only make its way into current Kalvari-class submarines, but will also be installed on Project-75I which is another step towards localization of the submarine. Indian Navy also wants to keep export rights of the submarine with due royalties to the OEM, if Indian shipyards are able to bag export orders for the submarines which can take orders beyond Six mandated by the Indian Navy.
Project 76 (P-76), which is supposed to be an IN program to acquire at least 12 SSKs of indigenous design by leveraging the capabilities built up via the P-75 & P-75I license build programs.
Project P-75I will have higher indigenized content and will have locally developed submarine Sonar suite, periscope and other sub-systems which India can source from Arihant class project. Project P-75I not only will reduce timeline required to manufacture this six submarines for Indian navy but it also will help Public and Private sector companies to be better prepared to gain experience and expertise before India can initiate Project-76 which is to be executed after Project 75I.
Moreover, in partnership with MDL, a private shipyard could be developed to create a parallel line for SSK manufacture, something that will be utilized to the fullest extent when P-76 takes off. By having two shipyards build the same SSK design in parallel to each other, delays due to equipment sourcing and technology absorption can be mitigated to a great extent, thereby helping the IN reach its goal of acquiring a fleet of at least 24 highly advanced SSK units in a reasonable time frame and in an affordable manner.