Why France backed out of key submarine project ahead of PM Modi's visit
New Delhi, May 03: France's Naval Group on Tuesday backed out of Centre's P-75I project, under which six conventional submarines are to be domestically built for the Indian Navy, due to conditions mentioned in the request for proposal (RFP) related to air independent propulsion (AIP) system.
Naval Group's announcement comes a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Paris where he is scheduled meet recently re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.
AIP system allows a conventional submarine to stay submerged in water at higher speeds for a longer period of time.
In June last year, the Defence Ministry had cleared the P-75I project and subsequently, RFPs were issued to two shortlisted Indian companies - private company Larsen and Toubro and state-run Mazagaon Docks Limited.
The two Indian companies (called strategic partners) have to tie up with one of the five shortlisted foreign companies - ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Navantia (Spain) and Naval Group (France), Daewoo (South Korea) and Rosoboronexport (Russia) - and then respond to the RFP, according to the Defence Ministry.
The ₹ 43,000 crore-contract will be awarded by the Defence Ministry following a detailed evaluation of the responses sent by the two strategic partners.
In a statement on Tuesday, Laurent Videau, Country and Managing Director, Naval Group India, said, "Due to certain conditions in the RFP, the two strategic partners could not forward the request to us and few other FOEMs (foreign original equipment manufacturers) and thus we have not been able to place an official bid for the project."
Naval Group has always been ready to offer the best in class and adapted solution for Indian Navy's P75I project, being fully in line with Aatmanirbhar Bharat principle, he said.
"However, the present RFP requires that the fuel cell AIP (air independent propulsion) be sea proven, which is not the case for us yet since the French Navy does not use such propulsion system," he mentioned.
Nevertheless, Naval Group strengthens its existing commitments and look forward for closer association with India, he said.
"Our focus and efforts are towards continuation of our collaboration with Indian industry in realising the vision of Government of India by supporting Indian Navy for other future developments and projects (maintenance, high tech tools, indigenous AIP, incremental improvements in Scorpene designed submarine, heavy weight torpedoes, larger ships etc)," he mentioned.
India is one of the largest importers of arms globally.
The Centre wants to reduce dependence on imported military platforms and has been boosting the domestic defence manufacturing.