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Germany Offers India New Stealth Submarines

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Asia Defense

Germany Offers India New Stealth Submarines

Berlin is offering New Delhi a government-to-government contract for the purchase of six diesel-electric subs.

Germany Offers India New Stealth Submarines

NRP Tridente, a HDW Type 214 submarine, at the Lisbon Naval Base in 2010.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Pedro Vilela

Germany is in talks with India over a possible government-to-government deal for the procurement of six 2,000-ton (submerged) diesel-electric Type 214 submarines build by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel, Gemany, The Economic Times reports.

A formal proposal has been shared with the Indian Ministry of Defense and is currently under review, according to defense officials. “The offer has certain assurances that the product will meet Indian requirements,” one official said.

The HDW Type 214 is an export variant of the HDW Type 212 equipped with an air-independent propulsion system using Siemens polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells. The Type 214 export variant lacks some of the Type 212′s classified technologies, such as its non-magnetic steel hull, which makes the sub particularly difficult to detect.

According to the website of Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS), the group and holding company owning HDW:

[The Type 214] is well equipped to undertake a wide scope of missions ranging from operations in littoral waters to ocean-going patrols. The modular weapon and sensor mix, in combination with the submarine’s air-independent features, makes the HDW Class 214 predestined for:

  • anti-surface ship and anti-submarine operations
  • intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance tasks
  • Special Forces operations.

A representative from TKMS said that it “is not in a position to comment on talks between the governments of the two nations.” The spokesman did express the company’s interest in offering a package that, next to submarines, would also include “robust transfer of technology, training, and meeting offset obligations. We define this as a ‘no-holds barred’ transfer of technology in line with Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ push,” he said, according to The Economic Times.

Germany has repeatedly expressed interest in supplying new submarines to India. As I reported last year (See: “Will India Purchase German Stealth Submarines?”), Germany has held a number of discreet talks over a possible submarine deal in the past. During German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to India in May, 2015 she also lobbied for a deal, noting that “there is Indian interest in industry cooperation for the construction of submarines.”

As I noted previously:

 The Indian government has been deliberating over the purchase of six additional stealth submarines, capable of attacking land targets and equipped with AIP, since 2008 and is expected to make a decision by the year’s end (in a previous deal, India already opted for the purchase of six French Scorpene-class diesel-electric attack submarines the first of which was floated out in April 2015).

According to the original Project 75-I proposal, two submarines would have been be directly bought from one selected foreign shipyard with the remaining four build in India. Now, with the Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ program, all six vessels are to be built in India.

Germany’s competition in the bid will be fierce and will include DCNS (France), Navantia (Spain), Kockums (Sweden), Rubin Design Bureau-Amur Shipyard (Russia), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Japan). TKMS has already exported variants of the HDW Type 214 to Greece, South Korea, and Portugal.

The Indian Navy already operates four German-made HDW Type 209 submarines, with two out of four boats, the INS Shalki and INS Shankul, produced in India under a technology transfer agreement.

Perhaps TKMS’s efforts in India have been given fresh impetus after it recently lost a competitive bidding process for an A$50 billion (US$38.8 billion) contract to build Australia’s new submarine fleet with its 4,000-ton HDW Type 216, a larger variant of the HDW Type 214.