The 3 new submarines are being built by the Mazagon Dock Ltd Shipyard in Mumbai, in partnership with France's Naval Group. They are designed for hunting down enemy submarines & surface ships. The sixth Scorpene-class submarine procured under P-75, INS Vagsheer, began its trial in May

New Delhi: India is set to expand its naval power in the Indian Ocean with the purchase of three additional Scorpene-class submarines from France. The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the deal Friday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s two-day visit to France.

India already has six of these submarines in service, which are designed for hunting down enemy submarines and surface ships.

The three new Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines, also known as Kalvari-class, are being built by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) Shipyard in Mumbai in collaboration with the Naval Group of France — a leading defence company.

With India’s P75(I) program — under which six conventional submarines are to be built with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems that will allow them to stay underwater for longer — still under works, the three submarines will help the Indian Navy boost its underwater capabilities.

The Naval Group has a dedicated team at the MDL Shipyard and has even established a subsidiary by the name Naval Group India.

The Scorpene— ‘Stealthy And Fast’

The Scorpene is a new-generation, conventional-propulsion submarine with an intermediate size and is capable in terms of “mobility and discretion”. It can carry out operations in both open ocean and coastal waters.

The submarine, which is 67.56m long, has a high level of operating automation that allows the crew to be limited to 25 — lowering operational costs. While its surface displacement is 1,615 tons, the submerged displacement is 1,775 tons.

It can carry 18 weapons, including torpedoes, missiles, and mines, and has six weapon-launching tubes. It can travel at more than 20 knots underwater and can stay submerged for 50 days.

The Scorpene is a 2,000-tons conventional-propulsion submarine that was developed by the Naval Group, France, for various missions, including surface vessel warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations or intelligence gathering. The Naval Group calls these submarines “extremely stealthy and fast”.

Interestingly, all the six Scorpene submarines built for India do not have the main weapon— heavy-weight torpedoes. They are currently using a Russian-made torpedo that has been given a life extension.

According to the original plan, the Indian Navy was to procure ‘Black Shark’ torpedoes from Italian firm WASS, owned by the AgustaWestland chopper scam-tainted Italian firm Finmeccanica, which had rebranded itself as “Leonardo” a few years ago.

A decision is yet to be taken on whether to buy the heavyweight torpedo from the Italian firm or the one proposed by Naval Group, called the F 21.

AIP System: A Unique Addition

The three new Scorpene submarines will have indigenous AIP fitted on board.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Naval Group France signed an agreement in January to install an indigenous AIP system on Kalvari-class submarines.

All six previous submarines will undergo a refit to install AIP in due course of time. The project is already delayed because, according to the original plan, the fifth and sixth Scorpene were to have indigenous AIP on board.

The Navy currently operates 16 conventional submarines, including seven Russian Sindhughosh-class submarines, four German Shishumar-class submarines and five Scorpene-class submarines. The sixth and the final Scorpene-class submarine procured under P75 — INS Vagsheer — began its sea trials in May.

In addition, India also has two nuclear-powered ballistic missile-carrying submarines of the Arihant-class.