Has the Indian Navy turned to the Scorpene Evolved for its 3 new submarines?

Obviously, negotiations between Paris and New Delhi concerning arms programs have gained momentum since the Indian legislative elections and the new victory of Narendra Modi.

After the information suggesting that the order of 22 Rafale M, and 4 Rafale Two-seaters, for the Indian Navy, could be signed by the end of 2024, it is now the turn of the three Scorpene submarines of the Kalvari class to make headlines again.

Indeed, the Indian press indicates that negotiations regarding these three ships, designed by Naval Group, and built by the Mazagon Docks shipyards, have also progressed, and are close to a conclusion.

However, the most interesting information, relayed by the Indian press, is not the amount of the contract, nor the manufacturing times guaranteed by Mazagon Dock, but the indiscretion regarding a new propulsion system which will equip the new submersibles, significantly extending the autonomy and performance of ships.

The three new Indian Scorpene built by Mazagon Docks, in 6 years for 35.000 crores, or €3,9 billion

Like the Rafale M intended to operate aboard Indian aircraft carriers, the announcement concerning the order of 3 additional Scorpene-type submarines for the Indian Navy was made by Narendra Modi during his official visit to France in July 2023, on the occasion of the French National Day celebrations.

INS Kalvari
Has the Indian Navy turned to the Scorpene Evolved for its 3 new submarines? 4

And as for combat planes, discussions on the subject of these ships seem to have been slowed down, and even suspended for a moment, during the electoral campaign for the Indian legislative elections, which were held in mid-May and early May. June 2024.

The subject has resurfaced in the Indian presse few days ago, when the Mazagon shipyards sent their proposal to the Indian authorities, for the local construction of these three ships.

Remember that, previously, it is this same shipyard which, associated with Naval Group, built the six submarines forming the Kalvari class of the Indian Navy. In 2005, the Indian authorities awarded the contract to these two partners, to locally build 6 Scorpene-type submarines of 67,5 meters with a submerged displacement of 1775 tonnes.

The first ship, the INS Kalvari, was launched in October 2015, and entered service in December 2017. The other 5 ships followed, at an average of one new ship every 18 months. The latest unit, INS Vagsheer, was launched in April 2022, and is expected to join the service in the coming weeks.

A new contract for new submarines, larger, modernized and with a new propulsion system

Initially, discussions between Naval Group, MDL, the Indian Navy and the country's authorities were to focus on the construction of three ships very close to the initial Kalvari. However, it was mentioned that the ships could receive the new AIP anaerobic propulsion system developed by the DRDO, the Indian arms agency, from construction, and not during their first modernization, as for the first six ships.

Scorpene Evolved Naval group
Has the Indian Navy turned to the Scorpene Evolved for its 3 new submarines? 5

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2 Comments

  1. Hello
    Quite surprised by these articles from the Indian Press, obviously “inspired” (as in the whole world in general... on these subjects, nothing specifically Indian)
    MDL was to incorporate the AIP technology developed by the DRDO (Indian public R center for Defense) on the “Kalvari” 7 to 9. This fuel cell technology based on high T liquid electrolyte technology (phosphoric acid), technology “ Made in India” and first presented as such, is no longer in the article…
    Technical issues ? delay ? or perhaps the comparison with Li batteries (taking the volume reserved for C batteries) showing a marginal interest now at the cost of great complexity. Non-rechargeable cryo gas at sea for example. (Choice made by the Japanese or Dutch Marines)
    Do not forget that any AIP system (Stirling or battery) implements oxidation/combustion, therefore in practice liquid oxygen and in general liquid hydrogen or fuel (reformed if c-cell batteries are used). A “gas factory”….always with a very low power density (the Kw not the KwH, in short the thing that makes boats move faster, speed squared with the power in a pinch..)
    The Indians are looking at the techno AIPs of Navantia and TKMS based on more modern membrane DC batteries, however,…but not at sea for 10+ years at MDL
    disappointed by their system?, inertia to change feet?

    • Afterwards, we must recognize that the gap in performance between lithium-ion propulsion and AIP, regardless of the technology chosen, is such that if the opportunity presents itself, I think there is no need to hesitate. Moreover, we notice that in Poland and Canada, Naval Group is very discreet in the media. However, its offers are considered favorites, at least in Poland. The prices mentioned in the Indian press confirm the price of NG's lithium-ion ssk announced in Indonesia and the Netherlands. From my point of view, as long as TKMS, Kockums, Navantia and Hanwah Ocean cannot commit to this technology (price, deadlines), it will be difficult for them to establish themselves.

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