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Fifth French-designed submarine delivered to Indian Navy
Handing over of the third diesel-electric Scorpene-class submarine by Mazagon Dock in 24 months starts the countdown to the conclusion of Project 75; sixth boat to be handed over within a year
Photo Credit : Indian Navy
Vagir, the fifth of the six French-designed submarines contracted under Project 75
The fifth of the six Scorpene-design attack submarines contracted for the Indian Navy under Rs 23,652 Crore Project 75 in 2005 was delivered on December 20 by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. This takes the strength of the Indian Navy’s submarine fleet to 17. Named Vagir, this submarine will be formally commissioned as an operational platform next month.
“Launched on 12 Nov 20, Vagir commenced the sea trials from 01 Feb 22 and it is a matter of great pride that she has completed all major trials including the weapon and sensor trials in the shortest time in comparison to the earlier submarines,” the Indian Navy announced.
“A notable achievement is that this is the third submarine delivered to the Indian Navy in a span of 24 months,” the Indian Navy statement added.
The delivery of the Vagir also starts the countdown to the conclusion of Project 75. Vagsheer, the sixth and final boat under this programme to build a new line of diesel-electric submarines, is under sea trials and is expected to be handed over to the Indian Navy within a year. There is no clarity about the future utilisation of the Scorpene/Kalvari assembly line at Mumbai’s MDL shipyard.
INS Kalvari, the first of the Scorpene-design submarines built by MDL in collaboration with the French Naval Group (earlier DCNS), was commissioned in December 2017. Khanderi, Karanj and Vela - the 2nd, 3rd and 4th boats under this project – were commissioned in September 2019, December 2020 and December 2021 respectively.
The Indian Navy submarine arm is now equipped with seven Russian-origin Kilo class submarines (Sindhughosh class), four German-designed HDW submarines (Shishumar class) and five of the French-designed Scorpenes (Kalvari class), besides one Arihant class nuclear deterrence submarine (SSBN).
The Chinese PLA Navy is reported to operate at least 60 submarines while the Pakistan Navy has a fleet of eight submarines.
A 30-year submarine building plan for the Indian Navy was approved in 1999 to build 24 submarines under two production lines. This programme is running way behind schedule. Issuance of an estimated Rs 42,000 Crore tender for the second line of six submarines to be produced under Project 75 (I) has undergone repeated delays. India aims to build the Project 75(I) submarines under the ambitious Strategic Partnership Programme, in which Indian shipyards will bid for the contract in technical collaboration with a foreign partner.
“Submarine construction is an intricate activity as the difficulty is compounded when all equipment are required to be miniaturised and are subject to stringent quality requirements. Construction of these submarines in an Indian yard is another step towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and enhances self-confidence in this field, a notable achievement is that this is the third submarine delivered to the Indian Navy in a span of 24 months,” the Indian Navy statement added.