French Naval Group has announced its withdrawal from Indian Navy’s P-75 India (P-75I) project.
The group was one of five shortlisted Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for building six conventional submarines within the country.
The reason for withdrawal was the Request for Proposal (RFP) that required that the fuel cell AIP be sea proven.
The Air-Independent Propulsion is a technology for conventional non-nuclear submarine. The technology allows a conventional submarine to remain submerged for much longer than ordinary diesel-electric submarines.
Importance of technology
Conventional submarines have to surface to run their generators that recharge the batteries that allow the boat to run under water.
More times the submarine surfaces, the higher the chances of it being detected and getting hit by enemies. AIP allows submarine to remain submerged for more than 15 days compared to 3-4 days of conventional submarines.
Importance for India
India’s existing P 75 submarines can be fitted with AIP technology later in their lives. The technology is critical for future expansion.
DRDO has developed prototype of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System by proving the land-based prototype.
There is a fear that it may not be ready even by the time the first Kalvari Class submarine comes for refitting starting 2024.
An idea was conceived in 1999 to indigenously build and induct 24 submarines by 2030. In the first phase, two production lines were established in form of P-75 and P-75I.
The six submarines under P-75 are already completed through collaboration between DCNS and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL).
Under P-75I, the government would give contract to an Indian Strategic Partner (SP), which will partner with a foreign OEM to build AIP-powered submarines in the country.