German defence firm Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems Thursday signed a contract worth Rs 250 crore with the defence ministry to overhaul, refit and arm two German-origin HDW submarines of the Indian Navy. The two Shishumar class submarines will be armed with Harpoon Anti-Submarine Counter measure missiles. The retrofit of the new weapon suite will be carried out in two submarines at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai and is backed by a training package to support and operate the system.
This is part of the decision taken in August 2014 to overhaul and refit six of the Navy’s submarines. The Rs 4,800 crore Medium Refit and Life Certificate (MRLC) programme is envisaged as a two-year process that involves stripping down the submarine, repairing its hull extensively, replacing its worn parts and rearming it. The German company will also have to give a life certificate at the end of the overhaul. Under the MRLC, two Russian-origin submarines are being overhauled in Russia.
India currently has only 13 submarines in its fleet which are also nearing the end of their operational lives, while China has more than 50 conventional submarines besides nine nuclear submarines. The MRLC will extend the operational life of these submarines till India inducts 12 submarines under its Project 75 and Project 75 (I). Navy sources said the decision to retrofit only two HDW submarines is based on the proposed induction of these indigenous submarines.
INS Kalavari, the first Scorpene submarine under Project 75, is scheduled to be commissioned in the Navy later this year. However, with the blacklisting of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries, the indigenous submarine is likely to be commissioned without any torpedoes.