Ger­many – Woo­ing In­dia for subs and fight­ers

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - By Ranjeet Ku­mar

Lob­by­ing for the sub­ma­rine ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme un­der P-75I of the In­dian Navy has be­gun in a se­ri­ous note with the visit of Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter Ursula von der Leyen to New Delhi and Mum­bai from May 26 to 28, 2015. The re­quest for pro­posal un­der the P-75I pro­gramme for ac­qui­si­tion of six sub­marines was re­leased in Oc­to­ber last, af­ter years of de­lib­er­a­tions in the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD). The Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter had ex­ten­sive in­ter­ac­tion with the In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar and later the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi on the is­sue of de­fence and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion. Her visit will be fol­lowed by the visit of Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in Oc­to­ber dur­ing which the Chan­cel­lor is also ex­pected to raise the is­sue of ac­quir­ing sub­marines from Ger­many. In­dia has al­ready ac­quired four HDW sub­marines, two and half decades ago and is work­ing per­fectly ac­cord­ing to Navy sources.

Dur­ing the later 1980s the In­dian Navy was pro­vided the two Type-209 HDW sub­marines in run­ning con­di­tion and two were as­sem­bled later in the Mazagon Dock. There was op­tion of as­sem­bling two more, but the Ger­man HDW also met the fate of the Swedish Bo­fors and can­celled the op­tion of man­u­fac­tur­ing two more in In­dian ship­yard. There were al­le­ga­tions of il­licit trans­ac­tion against the HDW and the then gov­ern­ment in late 1980s can­celled the ex­e­cu­tion of the rest of the deal. There were talks of seven per cent kick­backs in ` 420-crore deal for four HDW sub­marines and the com­pany was black­listed by the In­dian Gov­ern­ment. Later the Ger­man com­pany got the re­prieve from the Delhi High Court and is now once again free to join the race for six sub­marines un­der the P-75I pro­gramme.

The of­fi­cial re­lease is­sued by the Min­istry of De­fence spokesman on the Indo-Ger­man talks has given a scant idea of the con­ver­sa­tions but sources said that the two sides dis­cussed the In­dian plan to do­mes­ti­cally man­u­fac­ture six ad­vanced sub­marines with for­eign col­lab­o­ra­tion in an In­dian ship­yard un­der the ‘Make in In­dia’ plan. The Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter Ursula re­ferred to the ‘Make in In­dia’ plan and of­fered to sup­port this ini­tia­tive in the field of sub­marines. She de­scribed the two coun­tries as nat­u­ral part­ners. In­ter­est­ingly un­der the ‘Make in In­dia’ plan the Ursula also pro­posed the man­u­fac­ture of Euro­pean fighter in In­dia in col­lab­o­ra­tion with any In­dian part­ner. Since the mis­sion MMRCA (medium multi-role com­bat air­craft) is only par­tially ac­com­plished with only 36 of the 126 air­crafts or­dered from France, Ger­many has of­fered In­dia to trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy and know-how to make the Typhoons in In­dia. In­dian Air Force is in the dire need of ac­quir­ing around 10 fighter squadrons and will soon have to make a choice.

Re­gard­ing sub­marines, it will not be easy for In­dian MoD to take de­ci­sion in favour of the Ger­mans as there are oth­ers also in fray in­clud­ing the Rus­sian Amur, the Span­ish Na­van­tia, the French DCN and even the Ja­panese So­ryu sub­ma­rine man­u­fac­turer may also be asked to join the race.

Sources said that In­dian Ship­yard Mazagon Dock had gained good ex­pe­ri­ence of as­sem­bling the Ger­man sub­marines, but this time the gov­ern­ment is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing the is­sue of util­is­ing the pri­vate sec­tor ship­yards. The gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment route adopted for ac­quir­ing the French Rafales may also be con­sid­ered as the In­dian Navy sub­ma­rine strength has gone down at pre­car­i­ous low level and needs ur­gent aug­men­ta­tion of the fleet. The diesel sub­ma­rine strength has come down to 13 and one nu­clear-pow­ered sub­ma­rine INS Chakra is on a 10-year lease. Another In­dian nu­cle­ar­pow­ered sub­ma­rine is un­der sea trial and may join the In­dian Navy by the end of the year.

Ac­cord­ing to sources the Ger­mans have of­fered their most ad­vanced, re­cently out of the de­sign ta­ble, the Type-216 sub­marines to In­dia. The ba­sic de­sign of this sub­ma­rine is based on Type-214, which is dou­ble hulled with two decks and in­cludes a fuel cell, Per­masyn mo­tor and Lithium ion bat­ter­ies. This sub­ma­rine is also equipped with air in­de­pen­dent propul­sion tech­nol­ogy, which the In­dian Navy wants to have in all its fu­ture diesel sub­marines.

The sub­ma­rine has a dis­place­ment of 4,000 tonnes and has a range of 19,300 km at 10 knots while its max­i­mum speed is 20 knots. It has en­durance of 80 days and has 6 x 21 tor­pedo tubes and can ac­com­mo­date 18 tor­pe­does or anti-ship mis­siles. The sub has ver­ti­cal launch sys­tem. Since this de­sign is not yet proven, the In­dian Navy may ask for Type-214 sub­marines.

Af­ter hard­selling the Ger­man mil­i­tary hard­ware in New Delhi dur­ing meet­ing with the top po­lit­i­cal brass in New Delhi the Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter flew in to Mum­bai where she vis­ited Western Naval Com­mand Head­quar­ters and met the Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing-in-Chief Vice Ad­mi­ral S.P. Singh Cheema and also vis­ited the In­dian Naval Ship Mum­bai.

Try­ing to show the close­ness be­tween In­dia and Ger­many on se­cu­rity is­sues Ursula had said, while ad­dress­ing a meet­ing of Ob­server Re­search Foun­da­tion in New Delhi, “Prime Min­is­ter Modi made the case for in­ter­na­tional en­ter­prises to set up shops in In­dia and for closer col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Ger­man econ­omy. But our fo­cus to­day is not only on eco­nomic col­lab­o­ra­tion to­day it is also in se­cu­rity pol­icy.”

Later com­ment­ing on Ger­man De­fence Min­is­ter’s visit to In­dia, the Ger­man Am­bas­sador Michael Steiner said, “Her visit was a fur­ther boost for our strate­gic part­ner­ship at all lev­els. In Oc­to­ber Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel will visit In­dia for the next round of in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal con­sul­ta­tions.” The Ger­mans are ex­pected one again to push the case for Ger­man subs and fight­ers to be made in In­dia in late Oc­to­ber.

Dr Ursula von der Leyen with Naren­dra Modi

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.