Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Navy Starts Training For Scorpene Submarines

Two Indian naval crews will be going to France to train for operating the Scorpene killer submarines , six of which are being built at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai under the Rs 23,562 crore programme called Project-75 .

"The Indian crews will begin the training with the French navy after some months. We now hope to get the first Scorpene by August 2015. Each submarine will have just a 36-member crew since automation levels in them are very high," said an official. With India down to just 14 submarines now, the Navy is keen that the Scorpene project, which has been hit by a huge cost escalation and is running three years behind schedule, does not suffer any more slippages.

Both MDL as well as French collaborator DCNS, however, are confident that Project-75 is now fully on track. "The first Scorpene will be 'launched' into water in 2013, and will be ready for commissioning by August 2015 after extensive harbour and sea trials," said a top DCNS official.

"The target is to deliver the sixth submarine by 2018, one every nine months after the first one in 2015. The third and fourth submarines are already under construction at MDL," the official added.

Navy, on its part, is keeping its fingers crossed about the Scorpene project as well as its new programme called "Project-75 India'' . The government of course is yet to finalize P-75 I, under which six new stealth submarines equipped with both tubelaunched missiles for landattack capabilities as well as AIP (air-independent propulsion ) are to be built with foreign collaboration for over Rs 50,000 crore.

Projections show the force will have only five of its existing 10 Russian Kiloclass and four German HDW submarines by 2020. Consequently , even with the six Scorpenes, India will be far short of the at least 18 conventional submarines required to deter Pakistan and China, both of which are rapidly augmenting their underwater combat arms.