[RSTV Archive] Project 75 India

The Government has recently issued a Request for Proposal (RPF) to the two selected Indian Strategic Partners (SP) – for building six conventional submarines indigenously under Project 75 India or P-75I.

A backgrounder

  • Project 75 India is a part of India’s thirty-year-old submarine building plan by which all the six submarines which are under the project should already be sailing and it should have been followed by the submarines now for which the RFP has been issued.
  • It is a long-awaited and long-overdue project.
  • This should have happened way back but it got delayed because it was difficult to find a strategic partnership model.

What is Project-75I?

  • The Project 75I-class submarine is a follow-on of the Project 75 Kalvari-class submarine for the Indian Navy.
  • In the late 1990s, around the time of Kargil war, a three-decade plan took shape for indigenous construction of submarines.
  • It was known to have two separate series of submarine building lines – codenamed Project 75 and Project 75I — in collaboration with foreign entities.
  • Under this project, the Indian Navy intends to acquire six diesel-electric submarines, which will also feature advanced air-independent propulsion systems.
  • This is for enabling them to stay submerged for longer duration and substantially increase their operational range.

Air-independent propulsion (AIP)

  • AIP has the fuel cell technology which permits the batteries of the submarines to continue functioning even after it gets discharged.
  • It also reduces the chances of detection because the moment it comes closer to the surface, submarines are very prone to detection and after that, it becomes very difficult for a submarine to hide because it cannot move quickly under the water. 
  • Hence, AIP gives longer endurance to submarines than what a conventional battery submarine can offer.
  • AIP is required on an urgent basis for the Indian Navy subs in view of the growing presence of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Strategic importance of submarines development

  • Ageing arsenal: Currently, India has less number of submarines than what is required with some more of those from both types being at various stages of construction. India currently operates one submarine each in nuclear-powered Classes of Chakra and Arihant and in addition to 14 submarines belonging to three classes of Diesel Electric category — Kalvari, Shishumar and Sindhughosh, some of which are ageing.
  • Combat roles in near future: The nuclear powered and diesel-electric submarines have their designated roles in the Carrier Battle Groups, which are formations of ships and submarines with Aircraft Carriers at the lead role.
  • Strategic deterrence: As per the basic principles of submarine deployment and the minimum requirement for India to create a strategic deterrence, there is a specific number of submarines of both types that India needs to have in active service.

Significance of Project 75 India

  • ‘Make in India’ Projects: It will serve to facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology and create a tiered industrial ecosystem for submarine construction in India.
  • Self-Reliance: From a strategic perspective, this will help reduce current dependence on imports and gradually ensure greater self-reliance and dependability of supplies from indigenous sources.
  • Securing Indo-Pacific: China is increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and this is creating pressure on the Indian Navy in sprucing up the submarine arm.

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Back2Basics: Various classes of Submarines in India

In maritime terms, a class of ships is a group of vessels that have the same make, purpose and displacement.

Chakra Class: Under a 10-year lease from Russia since 2012

Arihant Class: Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines

Shishumar Class: Diesel-electric attack submarines Indian variant of the Type 209 submarines developed by the German Navy

Kalvari Class: Diesel-electric attack submarines designed by French company DCNS

Sindhughosh Class: Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines built with the help of Russia

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