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India’s long wait for Scorpene-class submarine may end any day now

India is likely to get its first Scorpene-class submarine within days, naval and industry sources have told ET. The Indian Navy, which has been struggling with an ageing submarine fleet, will get the new submarine—named Kalvari after the dreaded Tiger Shark—at a time when China has been beefing up its presence in the Indian Ocean Region. “The delivery is to take place around the middle of September,” one of the people quoted above said. The delivery means that the trials of Kalvari are over and the navy has accepted the boat, which is expected to be commissioned this month.

The second of the Scorpeneclass submarines, named Khanderi, is likely to be delivered next year. India is developing a total of six Scorpene-class submarines at the Mazagon Docks in Mumbai with technology transfer from French defence major Naval Group under a programme titled Project-75. Project-75 was launched in October 2005 and the first submarine was to be delivered by 2012. But teething problems delayed the project.

The Cabinet Committee on Security had in 1999 approved a 30-year plan for indigenous submarine construction. The plan was to develop two production lines on which six submarines each under Project 75 and Project 75 (I) would be built with foreign submarine makers. Meanwhile, the navy would develop its own indigenous design to produce 12 more conventional submarines on the two production lines.

By 2030, the navy would have 24 modern conventional submarines. The plan was later amended to include nuclear submarines. The government had in July also launched the process for Project 75 (I) by issuing a request for information (RFI) to six foreign firms. The two projects are crucial for the Indian Navy because it needs replacements for 13 of its Sindhughosh and Shishumar class submarines, most of which are close to 30 years old.

The government also issued a fresh RFI in August to five firms, including Naval Group and Sweden’s Saab, for supplying heavy weight torpedoes for submarines, including those under the Project 75.

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