The French naval and defence technology giant, DCNS, is gearing up to offer its latest products to the Indian armed forces. The company has revealed its future course of plan in the DefExpo – 16 at Goa. DCNS, a pioneer in naval technology, has been associated with the Indian Navy for more than a decade and has a slew of upcoming products to boost the capabilities of the Indian naval forces.
Precursor to the company’s history in India is the deep-rooted bilateral relationship shared between France and India. India considers France as an all weather friend and the relationship is time tested. Both the countries share an evolving strategic partnership that has enabled the exchange of state-of-the-art aerospace, naval and civilian nuclear technology.
At the centre of this working partnership is DCNS groups, which is a close partner of the Indian Navy in its quest to acquire the latest naval platforms. The company is a leader in design and development of submarines, surface combatants and allied naval technologies. The annual revenue of the company is estimated to be around €3.1 billion and is associated with over a dozen navies around the world.
DCNS India Pvt Ltd is a 100% owned subsidiary company of the DCNS group that was established in 2009. Through this front, DCNS has held a significant position in the Indian market. The flagship project of DCNS in India is undoubtedly the ‘P-75’ program. DCNS in collaboration with Mazagon Docks Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL) is constructing six state-of-the-art ‘Scorpene SSK’ diesel-electric submarines. DCNS and MDSL are working closely to meet the raising requirements of the India forces.
P-75 ‘Scorpene/Kalvari SSK’ Diesel-Electric Submarines
The Indian government in 2005 selected DCNS for supplying six ‘Scorpene SSK’ conventional submarines under the P-75 program. The tender was valued at INR 20,000 crore and was fueled by the dipping capabilities of the Indian Navy. These submarines are being built indigenously with a Transfer of Technology (ToT) to the state-run Mazagon Docks Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL). Both the entities have worked relentlessly to make the P-75 project a reality and have built a state-of-the-art submarine construction yard at Mumbai.
The Scorpene submarines are highly capable SSK’s. The hull of the Scorpene submarines is fabricated with high grade steel and this enables them to sail deadly silent when trailing high value targets like SSNs and aircraft carriers. The submarines are equipped with SUBTICS (Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System) which provide uninterrupted 360° situational awareness to the operating crews. The submarine is armed to the teeth with the lethal Exocet SM-39 AShM (Anti Shipping Missile) and can effectively nullify land based and surface shipping targets. The submarine also carries heavy weight torpedoes.
DCNS boosting local capabilities through working partnerships
The Scorpene submarines being built in MDSL feature a high degree of indigenous technology. DCNS has set-up working partnerships with various Indian firms to facilitate the complex ToT. DCNS entered into a contract with the Vizag based Flash Forge Pvt Ltd to supply critical parts like ship control and combat management systems. The company will also provide sub-systems for engines and pumps to be fitted on to the Scorpene submarines.
DCNS has also partnered with SEC industries under an INR 310 crore contract to supply various hull structures for the submarines. SEC is currently producing weapon storage and handling systems, hull hatches and various crucial pressure valve systems. DCNS through these working partnership aims to enhance the technological expertise of Indian industries. The company has boosted India’s local ship building capabilities substantially ever since its entrance into the lucrative Indian market.
Current Status of P-75 Program
The P-75 program attained a crucial milestone on April 6th 2015 when INS Kalvari, the first Scorpene submarine built under the P-75 program floated out in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. After successfully completing the harbor trials, Kalvari was launched for extensive sea trials on May 1st 2016. INS Kalvari, the first indigenously built diesel-electric submarine is expected to be commissioned to the Indian Navy by September 2016.
According to reports, DCNS and MDSL have completed the hull structure for five other submarines. The second and third submarines under the program are in advanced phase of system integration and are expected to be launched in the near future. The second submarine will be made available to the Indian Navy within nine months of the induction of Kalvari. All the six submarines will be under the operational command of the Indian Navy by 2020. The Indian Navy is now considering to place orders with DCNS and MDSL for three more Scorpene submarines.
DCNS working closely with Indian industries is delivering on its promise of a genuine ToT. DCNS is working relentlessly in close knots with Indian Industries to locally manufacture the best naval platforms for the Indian Navy. The company in the future plans to manufacture critical technologies for the P-75I submarines in India, if the Indian government facilitates 100% FDI. The company has unravelled its plans to manufacture the strategically important AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) systems and various sub-systems for the Exocet missiles in India if its demands are met by the government.
DCNS is also heeding to the Make In India initiative by producing sizeable skilled labour in India by providing on the job training for Indian engineers to hone their skills and foresees more than 4000 jobs under the buzzing Indian initiative.