Jul 30, 2011 THE TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: With India grappling with a depleting underwater combat arm, coupled with both Pakistan and China fast bolstering their own fleets, the Navy has appointed a senior officer to oversee and fast-track all submarine acquisition plans.
Rear Admiral M T Moraes took over as the new assistant chief of naval staff (submarines), a post which has been revived after a long gap, at South Block here on Friday. He will be replaced by Rear Admiral Srikant as the "flag officer (submarines)" at Visakhapatnam.
Down to only 14 diesel-electric submarines, the Navy is desperate to ensure its mammoth new programme, "Project-75 India", gets rolling at the earliest. It envisages acquisition of six new stealth submarines, equipped with both tube-launched missiles for land-attack capabilities as well as AIP (air-independent propulsion) for enhanced underwater endurance, for over Rs 50,000 crore, as was first reported by TOI.
What has added to naval woes is that the ongoing Rs 23,562-crore project (P-75) to build six French Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Docks is running three years behind schedule, with the boats now slated to roll out between 2015 and 2020.
The Navy will be left with only five of its existing 10 Russia)n Kilo-class and four German HDW submarines by 2020. Consequently, even with the six Scorpenes, India will be far short of the at least 18 conventional submarines required to deter Pakistan and China.
India is also set to get the Russian Akula-II class nuclear-powered submarine, K-152 Nerpa, to be rechristened INS Chakra, on a 10-year lease by November-December.
But the real underwater punch will come when indigenous nuclear submarine, the over 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, becomes operational. Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had earlier announced India's nuclear weapon triad will be completed, with the most effective and difficult-to-detect underwater leg, when INS Arihant goes on "deterrent patrols" next year.
As for 'P-75 India', the global tender or RFP (request for proposal) for it will be floated only towards end-2011 to vendors like Rosoboronexport (Russia), DCNS (France), HDW (Germany) and Navantia (Spain).
As of now, the plan is to directly import two submarines from the foreign collaborator eventually selected, with the next three being built at MDL in Mumbai, and the sixth at Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam under transfer of technology.