The Indian Navy is considering buying additional Scorpene submarines to top an earlier six-vessel order, Indian Navy Chief Adm. Robin Dhowan said at an annual news conference here Thursday.
|The Scorpene submarine Kalvari is escorted by tugboats as it cruises into the dockyard in Mumbai on Oct. 29. India may order an additional three Scorpenes.|
Though he did not give any details on the number of additional French-made Scorpene diesel-electric attack submarines being considered, a senior Indian Navy official said, there is a requirement for three additional Scorpenes. A formal note to request the additional submarines has not been submitted to the Ministry of Defence.
The Navy's Scorpene project itself is behind schedule by more than four years.
Under the 2005 deal, the first submarine was to have been inducted in 2012 but now has been delayed until December 2016. Earlier, the Indian government had threatened to impose penalties if the submarines were not inducted on a schedule, with the first one to be inducted in August 2015 and the remaining five every six months following.
In 2011, then-Defence Minister A.K. Antony told the Indian Parliament that under the contract signed with MDL, the first submarine was scheduled to be delivered in December 2012, and thereafter one each year until December 2017.
The first French Scorpene submarine built by Mumbai-based Mazagon Docks Ltd. (MDL) under technology transfer from DCNS was launched in April 2015.
Indian Navy sources now say the last of the six Scorpenes will be delivered by 2022.
Delays in delivery have increased the cost of the submarine project by more than $1 billion.
The operational strength of the Navy's submarine fleet has fallen from 21 in 1986 to four, which includes Russian Kilo-class submarines acquired between 1980 and 2000, four aging HDW-class submarines and one nuclear submarine bought on lease from Russia two years ago.
Navy officials say only half of the submarines are functional as the rest remain grounded on account of maintenance and upgrades.