Taking Manohar Parrikar’s recommendation to heart, the Navy is now thinking of purchasing three additional Scorpene submarines.

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INS Vagir, the fifth Scorpene-class submarine, was commissioned yesterday (January 23) by the Indian Navy. At this point, only the sixth and final submarine remains on the assembly line.

The Hindustan Times claimed that the Navy intends to purchase three additional Scorpene-class vessels in order to keep the production line running. According to the article, the Navy may soon submit an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) request to the Defense Acquisition Council for three additional submarines.

The Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) and the Naval Group just signed a contract for the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) yesterday (January 23). These three submarines may also be equipped with the DRDO-developed Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system.

The INS Kalvari, the lead vessel of the Scorpene class, will “soon” be outfitted with the indigenous AIP system, the Ministry of Defense announced following the deal’s signing.

A contract was signed in 2005 for constructing six Scorpene-class submarines with France’s DCNS (formerly Naval Group) at the cost of $3 billion, including full Transfer of Technology (ToT). The contract included an option to acquire an extra three submarines.

Former defense minister Manohar Parrikar had advised the Navy to purchase additional submarines by exercising this option clause. On the urging of the then-chief of the navy, Admiral Robin Dhawan, the option clause was never exercised.

Since then, the Navy has been unable to acquire more submarines. Project-75I, the Navy’s next-generation submarine program, has been repeatedly delayed and is not expected to move further anytime soon.

Seven submarines of the Russian Kilo class, four German U-209 class, and five of the most recent Kalvari-class make up the Indian Navy’s submarine fleet (one is in the fitting-out stage).

The older submarines now in service with the Navy will begin to retire by the end of this decade or the beginning of the following decade, at which point the numbers will begin to decrease once more.

At a time when Pakistan is scheduled to receive eight AIP-equipped Chinese submarines over the next few years, this number is insufficient to protect a region as expansive as the Indian Ocean.

On the other hand, the Chinese augment their fleet with numerous warships and submarines each year.

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