ibnlive » India

Feb 17, 2008 at 06:12pm IST

Indian Navy eyes new submarines

New Delhi: The Indian Navy has set the ball rolling for acquisition of new warships and submarines.

India has made it clear that it wants more muscle at sea and has kick-started the process of acquiring six new hunter-killer submarines and seven new frigates.

Of particular significance is its decision to go in for a new line of submarines, which will for the first time give India an assured capability to attack targets on land from under the sea.

Request for information have recently been issued to the French DCNS, Spanish Navantia, Russian Rubin and German HDW.

"It is a new submarine. It is not the Scorpene and it is a bigger submarine with specific features," Alain Fougeron, Executive VP, DCNS says about its new submarines.

The key differentiator from its existing fleet of 16 submarines will be a new class of missiles, which will establish India as the leading naval power in the region.

"The missile component of the Submarine weapon is very important and it should be very powerful," Andrey V Efimov, Manager, Rubin Design Bureau, says.

By considering four options India has sent a message that it wants to diversify its weapons procurement beyond traditional arms supplier Russia.

Its 30-year submarine building programme had envisaged a Russian line of Amur submarines beside the French Scorpene for which India signed up in 2005.

But now the Amur is not a certainty even though the Russians claim it is superior.

"Its capable of providing salvos for different targets," Efimov says about Amur submarines.

The other big decision is to approach the US for partnership for building seven frigates as part of the Indian Navy's Project 17A.

Russians and Europeans are also in the fray for the project.

With top-of-the-line submarines and warships, India hopes to establish more strength at sea.

In the changed circumstances, India realises that power projection in the future will not be done by its foot soldiers but by its strategic forces.

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