Asia Defense

India Drops Plans to Add 3 More French Stealth Attack Submarines

The Indian Navy has purportedly shelved plans to add more French submarines to its fleet following the DCNS leak.

India Drops Plans to Add 3 More French Stealth Attack Submarines
Credit: MoD Spokesperson via Twitter

In addition to the six submarines already under contract, the Indian Navy will not procure additional Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel-electric attack submarines from French ship maker Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS), following the leak of documents detailing the top-secret combat capabilities of India’s new submarine fleet, according to media reports.

“We had an agreement for six, and six it will remain,” an Indian defense official told Reuters. DCNS, under a $4.16 billion contract (known as Project 75-I) awarded in 2005, agreed to build six Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) diesel electric submarines for the Indian Navy in Mumbai in cooperation with state-run Mazgaon Docks Limited (MDL). The Project 75-I deal included the option of building six more Scorpene-class subs at MDL.

Some media outlets falsely reported that the initial contract also included an order for three more submarines in addition to the six currently being assembled in Mumbai. However, “India has ordered only six Scorpene submarines and orders have not been placed for three more as reported by some media. Therefore question of cancellation does not arise,” an Indian naval officer told Reuters.

“No [new] order will be signed, nothing is going to happen now,” the officer added.

DCNS allegedly put forward a foreign direct investment proposal for setting up a wholly-owned Indian subsidiary that would engage in research and development “in relation to air independent propulsion (AIP) systems for submarines,” The Wire reports. The new AIP technology would be installed on the three to six additional Scorpene-class submarines if a new order were to be placed. Nevertheless, next to the DCNS data leak fallout, the project is hampered by other issues, including the fact that the French ship maker already transferred AIP technology for the six Scorpene-class subs under contract to India’s Defense Research Development Organization, making the new Indian subsidiary’s work redundant.

With DCNS apparently out of the competition for the next phase of Project 75-I, India will have to look among the French ship maker’s competitors–including Navantia (Spain), Kockums (Sweden), Rubin Design Bureau-Amur Shipyard (Russia), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries (Japan)— to choose a foreign defense contractor to build an additional six diesel-electric attack submarines in Mumbai.

Initially, DCNS blamed competitors for the leak, which is still under investigation by Indian and French authorities. “The 22,400 pages leak includes highly classified documents marked ‘Restricted Scorpene India’ outlining the Scorpene-class sub’s diving depths, range, and endurance, magnetic, electromagnetic and infrared data, and details of the submarine’s combat system, including the torpedo launch system,” I explained elsewhere. The data leak also included sensitive details on the Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile slated to be deployed on the new subs.