India is trying to increase the number of Scoprene Submarines that the Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) is making. The MDL is tasked to produce six submarines in collaboration with French company DCNS. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, while answering a question on Defence shipyards in the Lok Sabha today, confirmed the stand of the government. When South Mumbai MP Arvind Sawant asked about the future orders of the MDL, Parrikar said: “The initial yard (MDL) where the submarine is being laid....is already vacant.
We are trying to increase the number of submarines that they are making.” Though Parrikar has in the past mentioned that more number of Scorpene submarines could be built, his response in the Lok Sabha was a clear indication that more such vessels could be added. The first of six Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs), the INS Kalvari, was set afloat for sea trials in December 2015.
The vessel is scheduled to be commissioned in September 2016. The 66-metre-long INS Kalvari is part of a $3.6 billion contract signed with DCNS in October 2005. While the first four subs are conventional submarines, the last two are to be equipped with the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, which will enable the vessel to stay underwater for longer. In the past 15 years, India’s submarine arm is the slowest growing in the otherwise fast-growing war machinery.
The submarine plan announced in 1999 had spoken of having 24 modern submarines by 2030. Half way through, the INS Kalvari will be the first submarine. India currently has only 14 submarines: nine Kilo class (EKMs), four German-designed HDWs (SSKs) and one Akula class nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) on lease from Russia (since 2012). The US Department of Defence, in its annual report to the US Congress, spells out the rise of China’s submarine fleet. ‘Military and Security Developments involving the People’s Republic of China 2015’ says the Peoples Liberation Army Navy has 68 submarines.