Faced with a critical shortage of underwater assets, the Navy is looking at alternate options to obtain more submarines at a fast pace in case plans to involve the private sector as strategic partners to manufacture vessels in India falters.
A top naval officer said that while the strategic partnership model – a pet project of former defence minister Manohar Parrikar which has been stuck for over 18 months – would be the best option to proceed with acquisition of more submarines, an alternate plan is also being formulated.
“We are looking at all options, including a government to government deal or an extension of the Scorpene class line (in Mumbai). The best option is the strategic partnership plan but we also need to have a plan B in place,” Vice Admiral DM Deshpande,Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, said in response to a question by ET.
The Indian Navy is in urgent need for submarines, with its Russian origin Kilo class vessels reaching the end of serviceable life and the six Scorpenes on order grossly inadequate to meet expanded security tasks in the region.
The Mumbai-based MDL shipyard, which is constructing the Scorpene in partnership with French firm DCNS, has been pitching for an additional order, making the point that it has spare capacity and manpower available to quickly produce larger numbers.
Deshpande, who was speaking at a FICCI event to announce an international seminar on future requirements of the Indian Navy, said that another project to acquire much needed minesweepers has passed all hurdles.
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