With its underwater arm severely depleted, India is preparing the ground to launch an indigenous submarine design and development plan.
In the first step, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will set up an agency in Hyderabad to test and certify the steel that will be used in making the indigenous submarine.
The underwater vessel will be made using the same DMR-249A and 249B steel - manufactured by the Steel Authority of India Ltd - that was used to make aircraft carrier Vikrant and P-28 missile corvettes.
"For underwater applications, we need extensive certification while for surface ships, if the material’s property matches with the benchmark, it could be used. The new agency will have best equipment to test the properties of naval steel,” G Malakondiah, one of the chief controllers at DRDO, told Deccan Herald.
The first industrial scale trial of submarine steel was accomplished successfully. Now, the material needs intensive testing for which the agency would be set up in two years. "The unit would be located close to Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, he said.
A parallel effort is on to develop suitable welding technologies and consumables for submarines at Naval Material Research Laboratory, Ambernath.
After the massive accident of INS Sindhurakshak last year, Navy currently has just about 10 functional submarines, most of which are pretty old. Realising the consequences, the government has decided to upgrade four Kilo-class and two HDW-class submarines.
India has purchased six French Scorpene submarines, which are under construction at Mazgaon Dock Limited. The first one is expected in 2016, to be followed by a new submarine in every nine months.
The defence acquisition council approved a second submarine assembly line (P-75I) under which four submarines (out of six) will be built within the country (three at Mazgaon Dock and one at Hindustan Shipyard, Visakhapatnam on transfer of technology) while the remaining two will be made at the collaborator’s yard abroad.
"Tender requirements for P-75I (request for proposal) have been firmed up. It took some time as we wanted to involve four-five major shipyards and had detailed discussions with them,” said Rear Admiral LVS Babu, assistant chief of naval staff (submarine).
The two assembly lines would be the stepping stone for indigenous submarine production as engineers and technicians at the dockyards would receive training and gather experience to take up the challenge.
* Notícia publicada al Deccan Herald.