The country’s second Scorpene-class submarine, INS Khanderi, built for superior stealth and launching crippling attacks on the enemy using precision guided weapons, was delivered to the Navy on Thursday September 19 2019, and made by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited

by Manu Pubby

NEW DELHI: Ahead of the contest for the largest initiative in the defence sector under the Make in India program, French firm Naval Group has termed the state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) its natural partner for the Rs 45,000-crore submarine project of the Indian Navy citing the joint production of Scorpene class submarines.

“We are natural partners. But it is a process (of selection) that we will go through. We have held three rounds of negotiations and have responded to the Expression of Interest as well. Our partnership with MDL for the Scorpenes is already a success story,” Rear Admiral RK Shrawat, chairman, Naval Group India, told ET.

Conceding that the strategic partnership program – the government’s big push for defence manufacturing by the private sector – will see challenges as the contest unfolds in the coming months, Shrawat said that given the size of the project, foreign collaboration contenders will need to put in a lot of work to come up with a design for the bid and that some contenders may have moved out after a risk assessment exercise. As reported by ET, Swedish firm SAAB has already exited the project owing to an “unbalance between possibilities to have control and obligations and liabilities”.

Describing France as a strategic partner of India, Shrawat, who served as MDL chairman earlier, said Scorpene submarines proved their prowess after induction into the Indian Navy. “The response has been extremely good. The Navy has been saying that they are exceedingly quiet submarines with stealth and sonar capabilities unlike any other in service. They have proved their combat capabilities with firings by both missiles and torpedoes,” he said.

The executive said that the remaining boats will be delivered at the rate of one a year and induction of all six submarines is expected by 2023.