July 12, 2015

India Accelerating its Project-75(I) Future Submarine Selection

Model of a Russian drawing-board design Amur 1650 being marketed bstate-run arms seller Rosoboronexport for India's new submarine project P-75(I). Amur's strengths include much in common with India's current Kilos and Amur might be able to be fitted with joint Indian-Russian BrahMos cruise missiles or Klubs as land attack and anti-shipping weapons. An Amur weakness is the lack of a mature AIP system.


Increasing number of Chinese submarines are visiting or even patrolling the Indian Ocean. This is causing increasing concerns in India. With India's small mainly aging submarine fleet India may be accelerating its Project-75(I) to buy 6 new AIP equipped SSKs. China can also extend its naval power through selling Type 039A Yuan SSKs to Thailand and Pakistan along with the two Ming class submarines China is selling to Bangladesh.


Rahul Singh for the Hindustan Times, July 12, 2015 has written an excellent summary of the Indian submarine fleet's current state of play. Singh does not make the frequent mistake of reproducing Indian Government visions of building x numbers of SSNs and SSBNs in short time periods. Rahul Singh's article is at http://www.hindustantimes.com/business-news/govt-shortlists-5-shipyards-for-rs-64-000-cr-submarines-project/article1-1368341.aspx :

"Govt shortlists 5 shipyards for Rs 64,000-cr submarines project

Rahul Singh, Hindustantimes.com , New Delhi | Updated: Jul 12, 2015 

Five Indian shipyards, including the one in which Reliance Group chairman Anil Ambani recently picked up controlling stake, have been shortlisted by a top government committee to compete for a Rs 64,000-crore [US$10 Billion] [1 crore = 10 million then convert Indian Rupees to US$] project to build high-tech submarines for the navy.

Six advanced submarines will be built under project P-75(I). One of the costliest projects under the Make in India programme, it is expected to scale up the navy’s undersea warfare capabilities and is critical to counter the rapid expansion of China’s submarine fleet.

The shipyards shortlisted by the high-powered panel are Mazagon Dock Limited, Hindustan Shipyard Limited, Cochin Shipyard Limited and private sector yards Pipavav and Larsen & Toubro, a top government official told HT. Ambani’s Reliance Infrastructure bought controlling stake in Pipavav this March.[could shipyards be considered the Indian partners to the foreign contenders?]

The shipyards, identified after a seven-month rigorous process, will be invited to submit bids to build the submarines in partnership with foreign yards of their choice.

[Project-75(I) Contenders Countries/Companies that have shown interest and their products are:

-  Germany’s TKMS - HDW Type 214

-  Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau - Amur 1650 (as a sweetner Russia has offered to make India the "regional hub" for mainly Kilo submarine upgrades)

-  French DCNS – Scorpene

-  Spain’s Navantia - S-80 class, and 

-  Sweden’s Saab-Kockums - A26]

The new submarines will have the capability to operate underwater for several weeks with air-independent propulsion systems, greater strike power against land targets and improved stealth features that make them harder to detect.

Already, six Scorpene submarines are being built at the Mazagon Dock Ltd with technology from DCNS under a Rs 23,562-crore [US$3.72 Billion] project [called "P-75"]. But the first of these will be ready only by late 2016, almost five years behind schedule [due to Indian hesitation and perhaps slow defence expenditure].

India currently operates 13 ageing conventional submarines:

[- 10 (now 9) Kilos India (Sindhughosh class) mainly delivered in 1980s - so mainly aging but refitting is extending the lives of 9. One, the Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank in 2013 and may well be unrepairable.

- 4 HDW Type 209 (Shishumar class) of which 2 launched around 1984 and commissioned 1986. Two commissiond 1992 and 1994.]

[India also has a semi active(?) part Russian crewed/advised(?)] Akula-II nuclear-powered attack boat [INS Chakra] leased from Russia at Rs 5,500 crore [per year?]. 

In contrast, China’s submarine fleet is growing in numbers and sophistication – Beijing possesses 53 diesel-electric attack submarines [especially Yuan under mass production], five nuclear attack submarines and four nuclear ballistic missile submarines. [and Pakistan has 5 Agosta SSKs, 3 of which have AIP].

India will complete its nuclear triad — the ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea — only when it inducts the indigenous ballistic missile submarine, Arihant. The boat will carry out weapon trials later this year, including the testing of nuclear-capable [B-05 is a new name for the K-15 Sagarika] submarine-launched ballistic missile. The navy, however, has refused to set a deadline for the submarine to take up deterrence patrols."



Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
In regards to India and their Submarines. I think it's going to be a fight between the older senior Naval officers who are use to Russian/Soviet submarines vs the Younger officers who are more in touch with Western Submarines. Though for India, I think they need to rapidly expand and replace their submarines. My bet is that India will go for the upgraded Amur 1650 over the more costly European based SSK submarines. I think that is because of their experience with the Kilo class submarine.

Anonymous said...

Judging by the shoddy state of affairs over previous transactions in context of submarine building in India, it is safe to assume that 'acceleration' doesnt mean much in Indian terms. The prime point of focus for the future of Indian navy, in my view, is going nuclear. That is going to provide range, and higher capability while keeping both the Chinese and the Pakistanis at bay from a greater distance. The roadmap too, is much more clearly defined for Nuke subs, with well judged investments in succesive relevant technologies. But i guess thats just what i think.
By the way, whats your opinion on India going for a further order of 6 more Scorpene subsfor proj 75i? The assembly line is present in India itself, and the newer subs can be produced cheaply and quickly. Isnt that a better alternative than going for an entirely new class of subs??

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

I don't know if a younger-older officer distinction is valid. India's latest operational SSKs are Kilos and its only SSN is a Russian Akula - which the younger to mid career officers are using.

The Amur probably doesn't have a mature AIP system - a major P-75(I) criteria. India also had/has problems with Russia doing upgrades on India's Kilos (including installing Klubs).

India's acquisition "system" is highly unpredictable with even state politicians and federal House of the People members expecting submarine suppliers to offer the best regional industrial development deals among other things. And some payoffs occur.



Anonymous said...

I read PM Modi is negotiating for leasing a Yasen class SSN. If I am him, I would negotiate on manufacturing under license the Yasen. That is the best way to gain knowledge and expertise instead of starting from scratch. It is a win-win for both India and Russia. The Indian ocean is large and deep and that is a good hunting territory for SSN.

In terms of SSK, it is better to standardize either on the Scorpene or the improved Kilo. Why not ask Russia for an AIP plug on the 636 Kilo instead of breaking in a whole new desigm like the Amur. But frankly, I would put all my eggs into manufacturing under license the Yasen SSN.

FYI, there is over USNI a good analysis on the Yuan SSK.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 13, 2015 at 4:56 AM]

I agree 'acceleration' may be leasurely and unpredictable by many national standards.

I think India needs to push the SSK and SSBN/SSN arms simultaneously as India has moved too slowly in all submarine classes.

India can launch SSKs more quickly than SSNs and SSBNs. The 6 P-75 Scorpenes may take only take 7 more years to launch. The 6 P-75(I)s may need to be an overlapping build which makes an existing sub preferable to Amurs, S-80s and A26s that still need development. India needs to launch SSKs more quickly to replace the older 209s and Kilos that need to be retired. India is also facing a new and quickly Chinese threat in the Indian Ocean. So India needs and expanded SSK force overall - maybe averaging 18 SSKs.

I see going nuclear as inevitably longer term - over 20 years to field 6 SSBNs and 6 SSNs. The Russians don't have the capacity to launch more SSNs quickly. Meanwhile Arihant is neither SSBN nor SSN. Arihant is SSN sized but its reactor seems more an interim stage.

Six more Scorpenes under P-75(I) should be considered - this time with AIP. As you say the Scorpene assembly line is already built. If India runs to form it may go for other subs. As I see 75(I) and 75 need to be overlapping builds. Waiting for Amurs, S-80s or A26s to be fully developed may well take too long and be technically risky.



Anonymous said...

Dear Pete,

there is another fast solution for India: the Type 209mod with AIP. Even the old Shishumar could be upgraded and also several old Type 209 from South Korea are available.

The Type 214 could be built in Germany, Italy and Greece. So fast production is possible.

The problem is India does want a production at home and will it mess up like India did with Scorpène and Rafale fighter jet.


Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
I think India should rapidly expand their SSK fleet because their older ones needs to be retired along time ago and their Kilo class SSK's they got from the 1980's and 1990's are all due to retire by now. Even their Type 209's are showing their age as well.

Which I think for India, they should rapidly expand their line of Scorpenes to replace the aging Kilo's and Type 209's and they should talk to Russia on getting the Yasen class submarines and maybe the Delta IV's as more of Borei class SSBN is being replaced. The other option would be to talk to Russia on directly buying some of the Akula class Submarines for their SSN fleet.

Here's what someone talked about the Akula class SSN this could Concern India

Russia's Alfa Class Was The Terrifying Hot Rod Sub Of The Cold War

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous [at July 13, 2015 at 7:18 PM]

Yes I've read http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/india-in-talks-with-russia-to-lease-new-modern-world-class-nuclear-attack-submarine/articleshow/47980078.cms?cfmid=11001088 about Modi-India leasing a Yasen.

On the surface it seems an ideal arrangement - Russia has the expertise and production line while India has the money. India itself has a record of delay in even building SSKs so I think it folly if India tried to build advanced Yasen SSNs. Though one needs to remember Russia has been very slow in manufacturing Yasens so it may not be the best solution for India - see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yasen-class_submarine#Units .

Much of this Russian SSK maintenance and SSN "lease" news seems connected with the Russian bid to sell India the six SSKs for P-75(I). Another aspect of this campaign is Russia offering to sell India a submarine rescue vessel http://sputniknews.com/military/20150713/1024572344.html .

Problem with India asking "Russia for an AIP plug on the 636 Kilo" is Russia has no experience with AIP plugs and is way behind some of its Swedish and French competitors in fitting AIP plugs. Any proof that Russia or DRDO has developed efficient AIP?

Re "FYI, there is over USNI a good analysis on the Yuan SSK." Thanks I've located http://news.usni.org/2015/07/08/essay-chinas-submarine-solution-for-the-taiwan-strait and will do a future article on it.



Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

209s with AIP or the 214s TKMS is actually offering is possible. Possibly TKMS prevented South Korea (with 209s or 214s) from participating in the P-75(I) bidding.

Yes bankrupt Greece (if it were wise) might be happy to re-export its existing 214s.

Modi's/India's "Make in India" campaign seems to mean India will make SSKs in India however long it takes.

Of course Australia is no model of (Collins) SSK building either.



Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky [at July 14, 2015 at 2:42 AM]

I of course agree "India should rapidly expand their SSK fleet because their older ones needs to be retired". Also India needs to expand its SSK (and SSN and SSBN) fleets to meet the China threat.

If Russia could develop efficient AIP and build extra Kilo (or Amur) productions lines and extra Yasen production lines then India could probably rely on Russia. China presents new Yuan SSK competition that Russia needs to worry about.

Akulas seem very old technology with the Yasens a better buy as Yasens are, in some respects, highly advanced Akulas.

There seems to be a major hurdles in international law-agreements preventing Russia from exporting SSBNs to India.

Thanks for http://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/russias-alfa-class-was-the-terrifying-hot-rod-sub-of-th-1637540064
However fast and deep-diving the Alfa was - the Alfa's high cost titanium hull and troublesome, short life reactor, made the Alfa program an absolute failure.

Russia may have had much to offer India in the 1950s-1990s but a resurgent authoritarian Russia doesn't seem a great ally for Indian democracy.



Nicky said...

Hi Pete,
I am wondering why didn't Russia offer India to help build them their own version of the Delta IV SSBN. Russia doesn't have to export the Delta IV SSBN but share the blueprints and know-how on building the Delta IV SSBN.

As for the Alfa class SSN, I think they were designed to chase off US SSN's. Though the Nuclear reactor on the Alfa is why they have a very short lifespan.

I do think Russia could keep the Kilo and Amur lines open because look at the countries that want a budget friendly SSK submarine on the cheap.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Nicky

I've thought along similar lines. See http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/pace-of-indias-nuclear-submarine.html where I noted that India's Arihant has a pronounced hump and sail planes that may draw on Russia's Delta SSBN designs.

The rough shape of INS Aridhaman (India's first SSBN for launch 2015-2017) was noted by Commenters at http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/04/pace-of-indias-nuclear-submarine.html as having a Delta like hump. Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INS_Aridhaman .

Yes the Alfas were designed to outperform US SSNs.

Russia's decision to use NON-presurized water reactors for the Alfas was a major mistake. The Alfa's used liquid metal cooled reactors https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid_metal_cooled_reactor#Submarines .