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German firm to offer Type 214 vessel for India's P-75I submarines project

The HDW Class 214 submarine. An internet photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Eyeing the Rs 50,000 crore project of Indian Navy for six submarines, German defence major TKMS will offer India its HDW Class 214 vessel and is in talks with leading shipyards in the country for a tie-up.

The Germans are also promising a no-hold barred transfer of technology in line with the Narendra Modi government's 'Make in India' push.

"The Indian Defence Ministry is expected to issue the P-75I RFP for which we are planning to offer the Type 214 submarine, which combines best-in-class underwater endurance and diving depth," Gurnad Sodhi, Managing Director of Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) (India) said.

Claiming that the submarine is highly regarded for anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, Sodhi said the HDW Class 214's "proven" fuel-cell based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system is the best available on the market.

While conventional diesel-electric submarines have to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries, AIP systems will help the submarines to stay submerged for longer periods.

Apart from AIP, India wants advanced detection range, combat management systems and better sensors for optimum performance on the new submarines. The weapon system would be a mix of torpedoes and missiles.

The Request for Information for the P-75I was issued in 2008 and the company has been regularly interacting with the MoD and Indian Navy.

"Since the Indian Navy has been our customers for over 30 years, we have established a strong working relationship with them and are in a position to fully satisfy their requirements. Virtually, no shipyard in the world has more experience in designing and constructing conventional submarines than TKMS Business Unit HDW," Sodhi told PTI.

Asked if the company has shortlisted any Indian shipyard for a tie-up, Sodhi said discussions are on and the group is awaiting the report of the special committee set up by the Defence Ministry.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had set up a special committee for the project to identify the shipyards in the country that have the capability and the capacity to build the six submarines. These shipyards will then tie-up with a foreign firm.

Besides the public shipyards, the private players include L&T and Pipavav, in which Anil Ambani-led Reliance group has bought controlling stake.

The committee is expected to submit the report soon.

"We will commence detailed negotiations with the shortlisted shipyard(s), public or private," he said. He said the company was committed to the 'Make- and Made-in-India's policy'".

"This would encompass robust transfer of technology, training, meeting the offset obligations among others. TKMS is willing to bring its expertise in cutting-edge areas to India and co-develop solutions with local partners to meet the country's needs," he said.

He said the company's proven local manufacturing concepts will aid technology absorption by Indian partner shipyards and enable them to deliver a customised Type 214 submarine in the shortest possible time to India.

India currently operates four HDW Type 209 submarines and the first was inducted way back in 1986.

"The very fact that INS Shalki and Shankul were made in India by an Indian Shipyard under a technology transfer agreement is proof that TKMS has been supporting India's indigenous defence industry for over a quarter of a century," he said.

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