August 22, 2016

PARIKRAMA's comments on submarine, torpedos, DCNS/France, India and Russia

INS Kalvari Scorpene SSK launched October 2015. India need 5 more Kalvaris, 3-5 Arihants, 6 P75(i) SSKs and 6 SSNs (twice the size of the Kalvaris).

On August 20, 2016 PARIKRAMA commented [20/8/16 4:13 PM] on a wide range of submarine and torpedo topics involving DCNS/France, India and Russia. 

Pete has made very minor word changes for clarity and added links, where useful. Pete cautions that all this information about France-India may still be an Indian bargaining ploy to beat down the price of a German TKMS Type 214 to win India's Project-75(I or i) competition.


[AIP, Kalvari and Project-75(I or i)]

DCNS is being roped to setup a shop in India via 100% subsidiary route for the fuel cell based AIP . so you are correct on the hints that you gave. Of course they initially tried to offer us a better MESMA upgrade which [Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD)] declined. 

The fact is almost 15+ months ago, it was clear that DRDO AIP may not be in a position to [be used for the last 2 Kalvari class Scorpenes] nor may DRDO be in a position to get its AIP on board the Project-75(I or i) (P75i) SSKs. So the contingency plan was [to rope in the] French side into multiple things.

[Linkages With F21 Torpedo and Shortfin and Indian SSN]

Here are a few examples of the DCNS/French products India aims to buy:

1. Instead of the Blackshark heavyweight torpedo (HWT) it will be [mainly French developed] F21 for Scorpenes, Arihants and future 
P75i SSK with derived technology going into India's Varunastra HWT to make it more lethal.

2. The winning SSK in all probability under P75i will be the Shortfin because India is very keen to get a part of the subcontract for the Australia deal and also wishes to use the technology of Barracuda in its first 6 [Indian] SSN Project. The SSN project is basically a amalgamation of Russian known tech with us and upgrading it with Barracuda tech particularly for noise, stealth and reactor  compartment and shielding.

The Amur 1650 or Lada Russia proposed is not cutting much ice with the Indian Government. In fact [India’s] Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd had submitted a proposal to build 12 Kilo 636 in Pipavav [Shipyard, Gujarat, India] with first 2 being built in Russia and next 10 in India. GOI did not even look into it till this date.

The reason is straight and simple, the product line which comes in 
P75i should have features which are the latest technology available in the market and which can be fed into Indian SSN/SSBN programs.

French and Indian cooperation will be unprecedented. I am sure you will see a lot more of a new Australia-France-India troika in submarines.

PARIKRAMA also commented on India's second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC2) and aircraft (MRTT and IL76/78) issues but Pete will write a separate article around these and also Indian SSN reactors later this week.


So India appears to be wishing to buy DCNS/French SSK technology (and perhaps Russian VLS) technology to use in India next 6 x SSK P75i and also in its 6 x future SSNs.

Part of this interest in France is India wants more recent SSN hull ideas than the 25 year old Akula I (INS Chakra) that India is longterm leasing from Russia. Also the Akula is probably larger (at 8,140 tonnes surfaced) than India would want in its first class of SSNs.

So it seems India wishes to obtain hull ideas from France’s Barracuda SSN (due to be launched for the French Navy in 2017) or from the Shortfin SSK variant (both are a more economical 4,765 tonnes (surfaced)). 

It is unclear whether:
-  India and DCNS expect the Shortfin to be sold to India OR
-  India just receives 6 x P75i AIP Scorpenes but with transfer of some technology from the
   Shortfin/Barracuda overtly or quietly included in a deal.


Pete cautions that all this information about France-India may still be an Indian bargaining ploy to beat down the price of a German TKMS Type 214 to win India's P75i competition. After the decade long Indian negotiations over the Kalvari contract and fifteen years for the MRCA France may well be cautious about transferring substantial AIP and Barracuda SSN technology to India. France would expect a great deal of money.

India has a pattern of not buying subs from the same country twice - not having bought from Germany since the 1980/90s. It is also TKMS that is likely to have the mature fuel cell AIP that India wants for P75i. So beating down the price of 6 Type 214 (or 218s) from TKMS for P75i may be India's long term objective.  




Hi Pete,
Thanks for the updated article..

Let me give you a nice link

Some good words are
What are your plans for indigenisation of F-21, can it be locally produced?
Some components of the F-21 are already available in India. Indeed, we have initiated five years ago a certification process for the thermal battery of F-21. The thermal battery is the battery used to safely push out the torpedo outside the submarine. This is to ensure that the torpedo remains totally safe inside the submarine and becomes active only when it is outside and away from the submarine.

We have on-going discussions with various MSMEs, as well as Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), to enlarge the scope of indigenisation of this modern torpedo. As you know DCNS is keen to grow its industrial footprint in India through local partners. We have successfully conducted an extensive indigenisation programme for the P75 submarine project. We are aware and share the philosophy of Indian Navy in becoming totally self-reliant. The torpedo being the main weapon of an SSK submarine, we are looking at ways to have it manufactured and maintained in India.

Autumn Leaf said...

Interestingly with Sea 1000, RAN/DefMin have only nominated DCNS as preferred tender. If we think that DCNS have given out too much off cutting edge technology that will render Shortfin Barracuda less than "regionally superior submarine", I think the deal might go south with TKMS given a shot at re-pitching their Type 216.

Peter Coates said...

Hi Autumn Leaf

Much more than "RAN/DefMin have only nominated DCNS as preferred tender." Note that Australia's Prime Minister officially and publically declared DCNS the winner of the political and technical CEP on April 26, 2016 - see .

Since the caretaker period is over, Election won and Turnbull's gov has returned to power DCNS is in intensive legal negotiations with the Aus Gov to sign the first of a number of agreement (in 10 months or less) to nail down the Shortfin choice as a contract.

While Turnbull remains in power I don't think he could fail to honour his DCNS choice.



Common Man said...

Pete, I don't think its accurate to say that "India has a pattern of not buying from the same country twice." HDW was blacklisted on the basis of bribery allegations (most likely a Soviet ploy), so there was effectively no chance of India buying more from Germany. There were concrete proposals for an additional two Type-209s to be built in the late 80s, equipped with Exocet missiles. An Indian admiral's book, which is hosted on the official Indian Navy website, talks of it:

The Kilos were purchased because Indira Gandhi and, later her son, wanted to keep the Soviets happy. The original proposals for rearmament, conceived by the 1977-79 government of Morarji Desai, had aimed at rationalization: one line of fighter and one line of submarines. The Mig-23, 27 and Mig-29 and the Kilos were never operationally mandated purchases.

The steep financial losses incurred in not utilizing the infrastructure and manpower developed for the Type-209 program at the Mazagaon Docks Shipyard has not been forgotten by the Navy and the government. This is why the Indian government and navy had openly talked of at least two or three Scorpene subs.

No amount of technology transfer or price reductions match the value provided by using existing personnel and resources and a slimmer logistics train.

subdriver said...

Sorry Pete - this assessment of India's future submarine programme is way off the mark ! Parikrama may l;ike to review the authenticity of his information.

The DCNS boss' interview link is part of their renewed strategy to offer the F21 since their earlier plans to foist the Blackshark in India's Scorpenes has misfired.

Peter Coates said...

Hi subdriver

I agree with you in being cautious about views above expressed on India's submarine and torpedo interests.

The view above that India my desire the Shortfin under P75i is highly unlikely due:

- to likely French caution since last weeks leak circumstances AND

- India's well known close relationship with Russia on high tech SSN issues (epitomised by the INS Chakra lease...).

France would be aware of the risks of providing Shortfin Barracuda (basically an SSK variant of an SSN hull (also with similar sonar setup)) details to India - as these SSN-related details might well find their way, via India, to Russia...