The Indian Navy has approached the Narendra Modi government at the Center for approval to make changes to the 30-year submarine construction plan approved by the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) in view of the changing strategic scenario in the Pacific Ocean. The Navy wants to replace six conventional assault ships with nuclear powered platforms.
The 30-year-old submarine scheme was approved by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in July 1999 to include 24 diesel attack submarines. So far, the Indian Navy has 12 old conventional assault submarines and three new Kalvari class submarines. The first of these was commissioned in December 2017 as part of a ₹ 23,652 crore project. Let me tell you that it was approved in 2005.
The Navy has sought cabinet approval to allow the inclusion of the new submarine force in place of 18 conventional diesel attack submarines. These include air independent propulsion and six nuclear attack submarines or SSNs. This change has been sought by China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) in keeping with the rapid growth of the nuclear submarine arsenal and to protect the Indo-Pacific from future adversary domination.
As of now, India has an Akula class submarine INS Chakra and a ballistic missile firing submarine INS Arighat on lease from the Russian Federation. Both are under the Strategic Forces Command. All ballistic missile firing submarines, also known as SSBNs, are out of the purview of the Indian Navy and are under tactical force command.
According to national security planners, once the Modi government approves the changes to the 30-year-old plan, the Indian Navy will defend the Approval of Necessity (AON) before inviting tenders for proposals from key allies for joint development. Will approach the ministry. Six nuclear powered submarines will be built under the self-sufficient India mission. The Indian Navy estimates that the project will take at least 10 years to complete.
The Navy wanted six more AIP equipped diesel submarines to be added to meet the 30-year submarine force levels. National security planners convinced the Admiral that a nuclear strike submarine is a more powerful platform with the ability to stay below the surface for months.
With the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) being able to develop AIP technology indigenously, all INS Kalvari-class submarines will be retrofitted with new technology during upgrades or mid-life refits. The Indian Navy will also take a leap to a platform equipped with diesel submarines with nuclear-powered and conventional cruise missiles.