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Naval Group has already invested over 100 crore for three workshops for maintaining Scorpene submarines’ critical systems, which have the tools and infrastructure for important tasks and also stocking spares. Naval Group is also working to qualify the Defence Research and Development Organization-developed (DRDO) Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system for installation on the Scorpene subs. As India begins negotiations with France for three more Scorpene-class submarines.

On July 6, Naval Group and Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai, inked an agreement to work together on three further Scorpene subs.

“The technical specifications and other aspects, such as delivery lead time, will be in accordance with the MDL in accordance with the needs of the Indian Navy. French and Indian business partners would offer all required assistance, according to Naval Group Chairman and CEO Pierre Éric Pommellet, who spoke to The Hindu.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is presided over by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, gave its approval on July 13 for the purchase of 26 Rafale-M fighter aircraft and three additional Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines for the Navy from France.

According to the Ministry, the DAC approved the AoN for the purchase of three additional Scorpene submarines under the Buy (Indian) category. These submarines will be built by the MDL and have a larger indigenous content.

The DRDO-developed AIP system will also be installed aboard the three extra Scorpene submarines to increase their endurance. Additionally, there will be more indigenous content because of ongoing developments in the DRDO AIP and combat system, among other areas. According to Eric Pommellet, “We are helping the DRDO integrate their AIP and other indigenous technologies on board Scorpene-designed submarines.

To increase their longevity, the Navy has designed plans to install Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all Scorpene submarines when they undergo their refit, starting with INS Kalvari probably by the end of next year. Recently, DRDO and Naval Group reached an agreement to incorporate the indigenous AIP module on the Scorpene after the indigenous AIP module underwent testing on land.

As part of the submarine’s routine refit, Eric Pommellet said, “We are actively assisting the DRDO in qualifying indigenous suppliers of liquid oxygen tanks and preparing for the future stage of “Jumboisation” [making the new hull, safely integrating the AIP, cutting the submarine, and joining it with new AIP section].

Along with submarines, Naval Group has agreements in place with Larsen and Toubro (L&T) to support the development of midget submarines and Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Visakhapatnam, to support their bid for the Navy’s Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ships.

The first Scorpene submarine construction programme and the sharing of naval expertise between companies in the two nations were praised in a joint Indo-French statement released on July 14. It also stated that “India and France are ready to explore more ambitious projects to develop the Indian submarine fleet and its performance.”

Six Scorpene submarines are being manufactured by the MDL under Project-75, which is nearly finished, using technology transferred from Naval Group as part of a $3.75 billion agreement signed in October 2005. The first submarine, INS Kalvari, entered service in December 2017. The second, INS Khanderi, followed in September 2019. The third, INS Karanj, entered service in March 2021. The fourth, INS Vela, entered service in November 2021. Mr. Pommellet said, “The Vagsheer, the sixth submarine, is currently through trial phases, and we anticipate delivery by early 2024.

At the moment, 16 conventional submarines are active in the Navy. They consist of five Scorpene-class submarines, four German HDW submarines, and seven Russian Kilo-class submarines. Due to delays in the induction of new submarines, the SSK-209s (German HDWs) and EKMs (Russian Kilo’s) are currently undergoing the Medium Refit Life Certification (MRLC) procedure, which will extend their lifespan by 10 to 15 years, as previously reported.

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