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15 avril 2011 5 15 /04 /avril /2011 22:59

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15 Apr 2011 By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI DefenseNews

 

NEW DELHI - Construction delays to four French-designed submarines have led India to reverse an 11-year-old decision and seek German help to upgrade four older subs. Estimated to cost about $500 million, the upgrade of the four HDW T-1500-class subs will replace their weapon control systems, data links, torpedoes and missiles. The Indian defense ministry wants the German submarines to be upgraded at Indian facilities with technical assistance from HDW Germany. The Indian Navy has seen its fleet of usable submarines shrink from 21 in the 1980s to 14 today, while the Chinese sub fleet, including nuclear boats, grows, said a Navy official. In 2000, when the Navy decided to buy the new Scorpene submarines, it shelved plans to upgrade the T-1500s, which have now been in disrepair for several years. The French-designed boats, now planned or under licensed production by Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL), are more than three years behind schedule, a senior defense ministry official said. Under the $3.9 billion contract signed in 2005 with France, construction of the first three Scorpenes began in December 2006, December 2007 and August 2008. The MDL contract said the six subs were to be delivered annually beginning in December 2012. Instead, the first one is now scheduled for delivery in 2015. Besides the Scorpene troubles, the Navy is also seeing delays in its $10 billion purchase of air-independent-propulsion submarines, the official said. The world's sub builders are expected to be invited to bid on the job, called Project 75I, in the next three months, the Navy official said. The T-1500s were built under an $89 million deal signed in 1983. HDW's shipyard in Germany built two of the T-1500s in 56 months apiece; the other two were built under license by MDL, taking 98 months and 116 months respectively. Later in the decade, New Delhi blacklisted HDW because of alleged bribery in the sub deal. The ban was lifted after an inquest by India's Central Bureau of Investigation ended without resolution.

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