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India may step away from additional Scorpene submarines
September 18, 2019
The Indian Navy's INS Kalvari just prior to entering its sea trials. Photo credit: Indian Navy

India may step away from additional Scorpene submarines

According to Reuters, the Government of India is unlikely to add to its current order of six Scorpene-class conventional submarines for the Indian Navy.

Following the aftermath of a major classified information leak from DCNS, Indian defence ministry officials have told Reuters that the Scorpene order will remain at the six ships presently under construction.

In effect, DCNS – which is co-owned by the French government – will not benefit from a follow-on order, which it reportedly been pushing for over the past year.

The Indian government has recently approved the pursuit of eight newer conventional submarines. This potential tender has drawn interest from a number of DCNS’s competitors, most notably ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) in Germany.

Notes, Comments & Analysis:

There is little doubt that DCNS’s medium-term commercial prospects are in a precarious position. To what extent the leak has impacted the confidence of the company’s overseas customers remains to be seen, though it appears that India has taken the issue to task.

However, it must be noted that while DCNS may be affected, the wider French defence industry is very close to securing a series of lucrative gains in India through the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s much anticipated Rafale order. The proposal for 36 aircraft as well as heavy commercial offset concessions was forwarded to the Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) at the end of last month. In other words, France and India’s defence relationship will not suffer, at least not substantially enough to warrant a clear pivot from France.

The Indian Navy’s post-Scorpene submarine program could be an interesting case. Considering that the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has developed its own air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, which is slotted for use on the last two of six Indian Navy Kalvari-class (Scorpene) submarines, it would be surprising to see New Delhi completely dismiss the idea of an indigenously designed conventional submarine. Alternatively, some minds in the Navy may ultimatley prefer a credible conventional submarine vendor such as TKMS to offer a mature – but highly customized – solution.