SeoulFollowing the news that India’s Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd. (MDL) and German company ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) signed a MoU to cooperate on submarine manufacturing, Tushar Mangure, defence analyst at GlobalData, a data and analytics company, offers his view:

“TKMS and MDL are expected to jointly bid for the Indian Navy’s Project-75I program, which includes the acquisition of six conventional, air-independent propulsion (AIP)-equipped diesel-electric attack submarines. If selected, the new submarine would most likely be based on the TKMS Type 214 design and may incorporate several India-specific customisations to enhance its attack and operational capabilities. These new submarines are expected to replace the aging Sindhughosh-class and Shishumar-class submarines, the majority of which were inducted between the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“Moreover, the collaboration will enable MDL to improve its submarine construction capabilities by adopting the latest technologies and expertise from TKMS, which is one of the leading submarine manufacturers globally. As part of the partnership, TMKS may also share the fuel-cell-based AIP technology that the Indian Navy has been trying to acquire for a long time. The partnership will also help MDL expand and strengthen its local network of suppliers and vendors capable of supporting complex defence projects.

“The Indian Navy has been facing persistent hurdles in modernising its conventional submarine fleet. While India has already obtained the design and manufacturing knowhow as part of the transfer of technology agreements for the U-209-class and Scorpène-class submarines, the country is yet to capitalise on the experience for developing any similar diesel-electric indigenous alternatives. Furthermore, in the absence of additional orders for the Kalvari-class, the MDL’s submarine production line is anticipated to go idle after the completion of the sixth and final vessel scheduled for delivery in early 2024.

“Although the Indian Navy is at the forefront of indigenisation, the Project-75I program has been plagued by policy paralysis and technology related issues from the onset. Some of the leading global submarine manufacturers have already withdrawn their designs due to their inability to comply with the conditions laid down in the request for proposal (RFP) released by the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD). Any additional delays in the program are expected to significantly impact the navy’s operational capabilities and widen the technology gap with regards to India’s traditional adversaries in the Asia-Pacific region.”

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  1. Yes India’s rules for the P-75(I) competition, like unlimited liability for the winner and near complete tech transfer, have been so onerous that India has turned off bids for years. Further years of haggling to eliminate unacceptable rules might still be on the cards.

    As well as Germany, South Korea, with its KSS-3, probably remains a serious contender.

  2. Compared to the 1980s with the Type-209, 1990s with the Kilos and 2000s with the Scorpene, India wants to go up the technological expertise ladder leveraging its steadily rising economic strength.

    However, it is a rougher hard ball negotiation than the usual hardball SSK deals in the past as giving India advanced SSK building capabilities is simply not a judgement call for TKMS/Daewoo alone..(in itself a hard decision no company likes to share its crown jewel knowhow/tech easily)

    it is also a call for Bonn and Seoul to make at a G2G level…. even if India were do the improbable to order 12-18 SSKs with 12-15 month roll out plan…. the financial merits might not be enough to convince the German and Korean governments on the strategic rationale/benefits for themselves front….

    Considering the difficulty China has faced with the CHD 620 engine vs the workhorse MTU 396 class for its 039 class SSKs…. the Indian challenge is more formidable.

    Even with a clear one sub roll out even one year or so….it will be decades before an integrated ASuW, sub hunter killer system can fall into place… (SSNs, SSKs, USVs, UUVs etc.) like a well oiled set of naval chess pieces.

      • The Chinese claim that MTU has certified the reverse engineered chinese version of the MTU 396V16 which is the CHD620V16CR. Hence the demand being – since Germany refuses to supply engines for the Type 039C and B types, take our engines.

        The sweetener being a quiet alternator made by CRRC being thrown at no extra cost to compensate for the noisier prime mover CHD 620. The apparent clinching argument from the Chinese being their PMSG being quieter and producing more power with the same prime mover…. the advantage being reduction in SSK signature and yada yada…

        the Thais are not fully convinced yet (as of March 2023)…about the noise control claim bit….the alternate offer of CSSC 712 made 5 MW PMM floats around… but being top end tech in China…I doubt the authenticity of the offer…

        PS: too long already… so the vibration isolation and limitations due to motor propeller link etc…i will skip here

        • That’s not quite true – France has moved to an all nuclear fleet, though they still build diesel electric submarines for other nations such as India and Malaysia. But your basic point is correct that there’s nothing wrong with a mixed fleet.

  3. Absolutely spot on article. The entire AUKUS deal (in my opinion) is skewed so far in the U.S favour that only the U.K would have signed on as a third party. By all means continue the project to eventually Aquire Nuclear Subs with the Brits or someone else but do not go down the path of buying Virginias . The ADF is already so dependent on U.S. tech that it is almost impossible to reverse without a lot of pain. The DoD and FMS is only partially to blame ( mostly to blame actually) but the U.S dangle a shiny new piece of kit in front of the Generals/Admirals/ Air Marshals and like little kids they want it . You are so correct on what any Prime Minister would do in the face of the U.S. deciding what Australia will do,what else could he do ?. The scenario you paint is extreme BUT it could happen and that is the problem. The same argument being used as the reason for not being dependant on Chinese trade can also apply to the U.S. or any other country ( I’m not suggesting that the U.S. has the same motives as China) but The misguided assumption that the United States regards Australia as any thing other than a convenient staging point and dumping ground for excess or unwanted equipment is so ingrained in the ADF, it is beyond tragic.


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