Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with his German counterpart Boris Pistorius to enhance joint defence collaboration, even as Berlin wants to build 6 submarines for Indian Navy

Germany has said it is keen on manufacturing six stealth submarines for the Indian Navy under a $5.2 billion deal in joint collaboration with Indian shipbuilders through the ‘Make In India’ programme even as Berlin is determined to wean New Delhi away from Moscow in terms of procurement of weaponry

The deal was one of the main focus areas during the bilateral talks held Tuesday between German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh in New Delhi. Pistorius arrived in India Monday for a four-day official trip. This is the first visit to India by a German Defence Minister in the last eight years.

During the meeting Defence Minister Pistorius told Singh that Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), a subsidiary of German conglomerate Thyssenkrupp, is keen on bidding for India’s submarine project – P75 (India) or P75 (I) – under which six stealth submarines will be built for the Indian Navy following the Strategic Partnership (SP) model of the Ministry of Defence that makes it mandatory for foreign equipment makers to tie up with domestic producers.

“We are talking about the six submarines. And the German defence industry, especially the manufacturers, has an excellent reputation. But, of course, there are competitors, and that's no secret … We support the “Make in India” principle favoured by India. We think that's right,” Pistorius said at a media briefing after the meeting.

He also said, “This then has to be organized in cooperation between the companies and the companies here.”

In June 2021, the Ministry of Defence floated a proposal to build six next-generation submarines for the Navy with modern Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP) technology enabling the submarines to remain underwater for a longer period, missiles and torpedoes, with an estimated cost of over Rs 45,000 crore.

“Defence is an important pillar of the strategic partnership … It (The submarine deal) could become a flagship project. We talked about which and how far the process has progressed. There seems to be a lot of interest in this. We want to intensify military cooperation with the other branches of the Navy, the Air Force as a whole,” Pistorius said.

Germany’s plan to manufacture submarines in India under the P75 (I) was also pushed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz during his visit to India in February this year after Berlin planned to come back in the race. Germany had earlier expressed it discontent over the conditions imposed by India under the SP model.

Defence Minister Singh said in a tweet, “Had fruitful discussions with the German Defence Minister, Mr Boris Pistorius … We discussed regional issues and our shared priorities. We also agreed to further strengthen defence co-operation between India & Germany.”

‘India Most Important Strategic Partner For Europe, Germany’

The German Defence Minister also said that Germany and the European Union (EU) at large, considers India as “the most important strategic partner” in the Indo-Pacific region, sending out a strong signal to China.

“Germany and Europe as a whole, to varying degrees, concentrated too much focus on economic relations with China. There was less of a focus on the political implications, the political developments here in the Indo-Pacific region and also in relation to India and also the reluctance to deliver weapons and other material, for example, meant that India had to keep orienting itself towards Russia, for example,” he said on being asked why Germany is planning to provide arms to New Delhi.

He admitted that it was not the right decision for Germany to not provide adequate defence platforms to India when it needed.

“But now we find each other and that means in plain language that India is also an important, not to say the most important, strategic partner for Europe and also for Germany. And so we must treat it as such,” Pistorius said, adding that Germany intends to treat India in the same manner as it treats its other allies such as Japan and Australia.

German Investments In Indian Defence Corridors

India has also sought German investments in the two potential defence industrial corridors that are coming up in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

“The Raksha Mantri highlighted the opportunities that have opened up in the defence production sector, including the possibilities for German investments in the two Defence Industrial Corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of Defence.

It added, “The Indian defence industry could participate in the supply chains of the German defence industry and add value to the ecosystem, besides contributing to supply chain resilience.”

The German Defence Minister will be traveling to Mumbai on June 7, where he is scheduled to visit the Western Naval Command headquarters and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. (MDL). MDL can become a strategic partner for TKMS in manufacturing the submarines if Germany wins the bid.

Apart from Germany, South Korea and Spain are also competing for India’s submarine deal.