New Delhi, April 18 (IANS) The Indian Navy may look for other means to procure submarines if the proposed Strategic Partnership model to select key Indian private players for defence manufacturing projects is not implemented, a senior Navy officer said on Tuesday.
Vice Admiral D.M. Deshpande, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, said the Navy needed the submarines to maintain its force level, and admitted that in case the Strategic Partnership model does not work out, it would mean “time penalties” before a plan B can be worked out.
Under project 75 India or 75I, the Indian Navy was to get six conventional submarines, which were to be made in India at a cost of around Rs 60,000 crore – under the Strategic Partnership model.
Asked about project 75I at a press conference at Ficci on Tuesday, Deshpande said: “The programme was linked with the Strategic Partnership model. We had some fair amount of progress on the Strategic Partnership but as things have changed, we have to rework these.
“We need those submarines badly because our force levels are being affected. In case the Strategic Partnership model does not fall into place for whatever reasons, then we will have to look elsewhere.”
Asked what the other options were, Deshpande said it is still being looked into.
“We have got to get more submarines and we are looking at ways and means (on how) we can get this. It is still work in progress, and so far as the decision making is concerned whether we go for follow-on of Scorpene or we look at something else… it is still in discussion stages,” he said.
The Vice Admiral however added: “We are keeping our fingers crossed, as if the Strategic Partnership happens we will be better off.”
“The projects we are looking at right now through the model is submarines and some aircraft. If it does not happen a plan B will have to be put into place, and that plan B right now is something which is very internal to the Navy we are trying to discuss,” he added.
Deshpande admitted that it will mean losing more time before the Navy can get more submarines.
“But yes, if it does not come through there would be some sort of time penalties, to make sure that plan B gets into place,” he said.
The Indian Navy has 15 submarines, while China has around 70.
Indian submarines include two nuclear propulsion submarines – INS Chakra, which has been taken on lease from Russia for 10 years, and INS Arihant which has been indigenously constructed.
Apart from these, there are nine Russian Sindhughosh class attack submarines, and four German Shishumar class attack submarines. Apart from these, six Scorpene class submarines are under construction in India, with the first of these – INS Kalvari likely to be inducted in the Indian Navy by end of this year.
The Strategic Partnership model was proposed after a report from a committee under former Director General (Acquisition) Dhirendra Singh suggested finding strategic partners for high-end defence production. A task force was then constituted by the Defence Ministry under former DRDO chief V.K. Aatre, which among other things suggested fnalising only one or two partners for each sector.