New Delhi: The Indian ministry of defence expects to issue an $11 billion global tender for the construction of six next-generation submarines this year, navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said here Wednesday. The new acquisitions will help shore up the Indian Navy's depleting submarine fleet and enhance its offensive and defensive strike capabilities.
For its size (Rs50,000 crore) the fresh order will also be the country's single biggest defence order to date, perhaps eclipsing even the hugely delayed Indian Air Force multi-role combat aircraft tender. The MMRCA tender is also similarly-budgeted at $10-plus billion.
The new submarine programme, known as Project 75I (Project 75 India), will be a follow-on project to the six Scorpene submarines currently being built at the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) under the similarly-titled Project 75.
'The government has already cleared Project 75I. At the moment we are going through the process of Request for Information (RFI). I hope within this year we will be able to push the tender,' Adm Verma said on the side line of the National Maritime Foundation seminar on submarines.
MDL and French firm DCNS are engaged in executing the Project 75 Scorpene order at a cost of $4 billion.
With the decommissioning of two ancient Russian Foxtrot vessels last year, the Indian Navy currently operates 14 diesel-electric submarines. Of the 14 submarines, 10 are Kilo class Soviet-origin vessels and the rest are HDW German-origin vessels. Most of the Kilo class vessels have undergone major refit and up-gradation programmes.