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India's Scorpene project behind schedule

French made Scorpene class diesel-electric submarines. A file photo

NEW DELHI (BNS): Indian Navy project to construct of Rs 18,798 crore six Scorpene submarines at the Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai is behind schedule by two years.

Defence Ministry sources said the latest assessment showed that the delivery of the first submarine, initially scheduled to roll out by December 2012, would not be possible before end-2014.

The entire project would costs much beyond Rs 20,000 crore as France is demanding double the money to supply some critical equipment to MDL.

“Negotiations for these `MDL procured material packages', which include almost everything other than combat systems, have been underway for a year now. The French say costs have doubled since the contracts were inked in October 2005,” The Times of India quoted a source as saying.

All the six submarines being built in Mumbai, were to be initially delivered by December 2017, one per year beginning from 2012. A big delay will hit Navy hard since its projections show it will be left with only nine out of its present fleet of 16 diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class, four German HDW and two Foxtrot — by 2012, it said.

Designed for coastal defence against underwater threats, the 1,750-tonne Scorpene is 67 meters long and could dive to the depth of 300 meters. It can stay at sea for 45 days with a crew of 31. The standard version has six torpedo tubes and (anti-shipping) missile launchers.

While general architecture, propulsion system and torpedo tubes were common to the submarines supplied to Chilean and Malaysian navies, the Scorpenes for India would be somewhat different in combat systems and living accommodation, according to reports.

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