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MDL Will Deliver All 6 Scorpene Submarine To Indian Navy By 2023

MDL & Naval group joint development of Scorpene class submarines are delayed and stretched.  While the 4th Submarine “Vela” was launched in May 2019, what will the time line for the rest?

Two boats have already been delivered and as regarding the third one, we’re planning to deliver in all earnestness by 31st December this year. At the most, it might spill over to early January or maybe early February next year. And subsequent boats are all being delivered at an interval of about a year. MDL say that by mid-24’ or end of 23’ they would’ve delivered all the boats with regard to Residual 4 boats. 

At a very advanced stage in the construction and trials of all the 4 boats. The boat number 3 that we’re talking about, has already been to the sea, a few times, has operated, and has performed extremely well. It has come for certain maintenance and repair work which has to be undertaken. On completion we will be putting her back to sea and very sure the cardinal dates we should be able to adhere to. 

MDL with L&T for P751 is scouting for foreign partner under SP Model. What is the technological assimilation MDL is looking for?  How will the partnership with L&T will unfold? When is it expected to take off?

At the moment both L&T and MDL are the two key strategic partners of MoD which have been identified by the government severally to undertake this program of P75I, not together. 

Further, there are five foreign OEMs who are potential  technology collaborators. The strategic partners will have to identify their collaborator based on techno-commercial merits. 

The original plan of P75 Scorpene submarine to have an air independent propulsion system (AIP), has not materialized so far. We are still struggling with AIP technology for our future project- P75 I. Why could we not get an AIP system for the Scorpene submarine?

As far as the Air independent propulsion system is concerned, now these are very niche technologies very rarely available in today’s combat market. I’d just like to share with you, we have an R&D lab with DRDO called NSTL Visakhapatnam and way back in 2002 they started having a tryst with an air-independent propulsion package and they developed a closed-cycle diesel engines which is one of the apes but this is one of the very, very basic model. 

In P75I the AIP is introduced with an aim to enhance the submerged endurance of the boat. AIP will increase the submerged endurance by may be about 10 to 15 days vis-à-vis what is being achieved traditionally. It is envisaged that the foreign partner in the P75I will provide the AIP know-how to the Indian side.

So, P75I is one of the niche technologies which has to come out with that it has to be a conventional submarine with an air independent propulsion system for enhanced submerged endurance. And in terms of technologies which are available in the world, certainly Germany claims to have all the commissioned boats with an air package largely again on the fuel cell.

We are also hearing about Navantia from Spain that they are very soon going to commission a boat with another additional package, Daewoo in South Korea claims with one of the boats what they’ve already produced.

Similarly, even Rosoboronexport, an Amur-class of submarine which they’re trying to offer to us is also one of the boats in which the land trials of air-independent propulsion system is presently in progress, and they’re hopeful to offer a product of that kind. 

Putting a huge amount of effort in our indigenous programme of the air independent propulsion system, but the complete details right now are not available in the open public domain. But suffice to say that this will take a little more time.

The Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System will be the core of P75I. Where is DRDO now in terms of developing this technology because it might delay this program? Could you share an update on this – and if it is being developed indigenously? 

The indigenous programme is at a very advanced stage but exact stage is not known because it’s not fully available in the public domain. They’re also putting up a huge amount of impetus to develop because it’s to be integrated with the P75 I for which a RFP is already expected somewhere in the end of October or maybe mid of November this year itself. Now a vagueness cannot be retained there. 

There’s a huge amount of hastening up that happening in the DRDO sector which is happening around there , it is always good particularly in a niche technology because once MDL start sailing these boats what kind of a problem that they are going to envisage is not known.

What kind of a maintenance problem will come out here, and submarines by and large is a very technology intensive platform and if it has to remain underwater that is what the combat efficiency of the platform and its punch delivery capacity will talk about that she should not come out once submarine dive. 

The position of the submarine is revealed, it becomes very vulnerable. So, its strength lies in remaining in deep water for a very long time undetected. So submarine should not come out at any point of time.

So with such technology getting proven we do not have very neat and clean and open forum data available. So we will have to have a very concerted kind of a look and this RFP is taking a little amount of time because we have to be very, very clear that if the development programme from the Indian side is going to get delayed.

MDL’s Nhava Yard is all set for futuristic project which will have a far reaching capacity, probably making MDL the busiest dock. Apart from the P75I project, what are the projects earmarked?

Right now, the order book is about 54,500 crores, and also saying out of the total capacity that MDL have for 11 submarines, thay have only about 4 in number right now and which also we will deliver in 2.5 to 3 years from today. Similarly the ship’s programme that we have 8 against the 10 capacity and these all will get delivered in 5 to 7 years from now.

The case-in-point is new generation missile vessels. They’re roughly about 6 in number. Already submitted bids and the navy will take its own course of time to identify certain competitive bidding and to understand. 

Currently Mazgoan Dock Shipbuilders have an order book comprising of four in number project 15 B destroyers,  four in number stealth frigates and six submarines of  P75, they have delivered two of them and now building remaining four. Also doing another vertical which is the refit and repairs of ships and submarines and that also is a very promising line. So together right now the order book constitute about Rs. 54,000 crores. 

YATISH MAHAJAN

I am Yatish Mahajan. Defence aspirant, want to wear stars on shoulders. At present pursuing BE in mechanical engineering.

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