The ‘Project 75’ for the construction of six submarines for the Indian Navy has been in the pipeline for long time now. Dr Gurnad Sodhi, Managing Director, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) India, which is one of the companies in fray for the order, talks about what the company has to offer to India.
Q. What has prompted TKMS to participate in one of the lndia’s largest Defence tender for the construction of six submarines under Project 75 India (P-75 (I) for the Indian Navy?
A. The Ministry of Defence is expected to issue the P-75 (I) RFP for which we are planning to offer the Type 214 submarine, which combines best-in-class underwater endurance and diving depth. Besides its highly regarded anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the HDW Class 214’s proven fuel cell-based Air Independent Propulsion system is the best available in the market and offers exceptional operational advantages to the Indian Navy. Since the Indian Navy has been our customer for over 30 years, we have established a strong working relationship with them and are in a position to fully satisfy their requirements.
Q. Has TKMS short-listed any Indian shipyard for collaboration or alliance?
A. A high-level committee has been formed by the MoD and is currently evaluating the Indian shipyards. It is expected that this Committee will submit its report shortly. TKMS respects the decision by the MoD in short-listing the most capable shipyard(s) without any bias. Thereafter, we will commence our negotiations with the shortlisted shipyard(s).
Q. Will TKMS adhere to India’s new policy of ‘Make in India’?
A. We are committed to the ‘Make and Made in India’ policy. This would encompass inter alia robust Transfer of Technology (ToT), training, meeting the offset obligations etc. TKMS is willing to bring its expertise in cutting-edge areas to India and co-develop solutions with local partners to meet the country’s needs. Besides the most capable submarine, best value for money and a strong industrial partnership, TKMS is offering extensive ToT to India.
Q. Could TKMS throw some light on the present status of its four submarines which were commissioned in the late eighties and early nineties?
A. TKMS has been a trusted partner of the Indian Navy for over 25 years. The Indian Navy has operated successfully the HDW Type 209 since their induction in 1986. The very fact that INS Shalki and Shankul were made in India by an Indian Shipyard under a technology-transfer agreement is proof that TKMS has been supporting India’s indigenous defence industry for over a quarter of a century. We can proudly claim that all our four submarines are performing well without any inherent problems.
Q. Are there any plans to upgrade the existing HDW/Shishumar class submarines with the Indian Navy?
A. Yes, we are currently exploring opportunities to upgrade the Shishumar class Type 209 submarines with the Indian Navy, for lifetime extensions. TKMS has successfully demonstrated in several countries, how substantial ToT can be implemented in the upgrade of the HDW Type 209s.
Q. Is the Indian Navy also contemplating upgrading the weapon suite on the existing German submarines?
A. Yes, TKMS is in discussions with the Indian Navy about this. We have the capacity to integrate any weapon system that is selected by the Indian Navy into the existing Shishumar class submarines. In fact, such customised integrations have been successfully carried out by TKMS in similar type of submarines for many other Navies of the world.
Q. What other strategic benefits does TKMS offer to India?
A. We can offer to the Indian Navy the world’s best, cutting-edge technologies in the form of modular construction, stealth technologies and integration of diverse weapon systems, including Brahmos missiles, besides providing high-quality training to both shipbuilders and crew in all disciplines.