Germany is in a “Good Place” in the Race to Build Six Submarines for India: Boris Pistorius, German Defence Minister

Foreign Affairs

New Delhi: Germany’s Defence Minister Boris Pistorius, who was on a four-day visit to India, said his country is in a ‘good place’ to bag the six-submarine deal worth Rs 43,000 crore. The deal is part of New Delhi’s P-75I project that envisages the construction of advanced underwater vessels.

Germany is one step closer to inking a deal with India to build six submarines, as part of the P-75I project. Germany is in a “good place” in the race to build six submarines for India, said  Pistorius after he held long-ranging talks with defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

Pistorius, who is the first German defence minister to visit India since 2015, had a busy schedule in the country. After his talks with Singh, Pistorius told reporters that Berlin’s strategic ties with New Delhi have become more important in the context of the unpredictable situation in the Indo-Pacific. He also indicated Germany’s approach to intensify defence ties with India while noting Europe’s reluctance to deliver weapons to India that he said made New Delhi look towards Russia.

Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) is looking to bag a contract to build six submarines for India in a Rs 43,000 crore deal. The submarines will be built through a strategic partnership (SP) mode, under the Project called P-75 India.

Speaking on the same, Pistorius said, “We are talking about a deal of TKMS… about six submarines but of course the procedure is not finished yet but I think the German industry is at a good place in that race.”

“We support the ‘Make in India’ principle favoured by India. We think that’s right,” the German defence minister said. Under the strategic partnership model, an Indian shipyard will be selected by the government, which will also nominate the foreign original equipment manufacturer (OEM) under the overall arch of ‘Make in India’.

Germany has become the frontrunner for the submarine deal after France’s defence company Naval Group announced in May 2022 that it would not be able to join the P-75I project. Announcing their withdrawal, Laurent Videau, country and managing director, Naval Group India, had said: “The present request for proposal (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.”

Following France’s withdrawal, Germany and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Company have been in the fray, but the Korean submarine pitch is reportedly based on a German design.

As per the original plan, Indian shipyards had to submit a consolidated bid with a foreign collaborator in 2021. After a series of issues were raised regarding liability clauses and other difficulties, the deadline was extended to June 2022. This was further extended to December 2022 and again extended to August this year. According to experts, even if all goes smoothly and Germany bags the contract, the earliest the first P-75I submarine can be commissioned is around 2032.

If Germany bags the contract, it will come as a big boost to India’s naval strength. Currently, India has 17 conventional diesel-electric submarines, which are classified as SSKs. The last submarine to be commissioned by India was the INS Vagir in January this year. INS Vagsheer, the sixth such submarine, is expected to be inducted next year. India also has two nuclear ballistic submarines.