Larsen & Toubro (L&T) and Pipavav Defense & Offshore Engineering have won $9.5 billion contract to build six diesel submarines with Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP) technology for Indian Navy, says government of India sources.
According to highly-placed sources, a high-level committee headed by vice-admiral Subhedar, which had inspected both public and private shipyards to shortlist candidates to issue the request for qualification (RFQ) for Project 75i, in its final presentation to the ministry of defence (MoD) last week, selected the two private sector shipyards — L&T’s Katupalli yard and Pipavav unit.
“Project 75i, as we call it, is for purchasing six next-generation submarines with air independent propulsion (AIP) system for the Indian Navy over the next seven-eight years. It can fire both torpedoes and missiles,” said a senior official in the defence ministry.
Anil Ambani group firm Reliance Infrastructure has recently acquired management control in Pipavav. Pipavav Shipyard has entered into some agreements recently with some global majors with a view to diversify into the submarine market and also has the capacity to build many boats simultaneously.
L&T’s mega shipyard, where the company intends to execute the project, is at Kattupalli, about 40 km north of Chennai, on the east coast. This complex also includes a container port and a modular fabrication facility.
The tender, the sources said, would be a ‘buy and make (India)’ one, which implies tie-ups for technology with foreign collaborators with substantial manufacturing in India.
According to defence experts, what makes these Project 75i submarines unique is that they could be powered by an indigenous AIP system that enables them stay underwater for longer periods than conventional boats that have to frequently surface to recharge their batteries.