After four years of delays, India has finally signed a $3.5 billion submarine deal for French-Spanish Scorpene SSKs. As noted in DID’s earlier comprehensive coverage of the deal, the Scorpenes will be manufactured under license by Mumbai-based Mazagon Dock Ltd., and delivered to the Indian Navy between 2012-2017.
The government also awarded global missile systems group MBDA the contract to supply its Exocet SM-39 anti-ship missiles to arm the Scorpene. Another contract signed between Armaris and Mazagoan docks provides for a team of French technical advisers during the construction of the first two submarines.
Project delays have affected India’s original plans to have a force level of 24 diesel submarines by 2030. Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash said:
“By the time the Scorpenes arrive, there will already be a decline in our submarine force levels because some of our existing fleet will be decommissioned by that time. We will have to improvise with what we have.” Yet a Rediff News article qotes Admiral Prakash as saying that that the Navy plans to press for more submarinesto make up this shortfall.
Finally, there has been a whiff of scandal. The French Ambassador to India, Dominique Girard, dismissed a recent bribery allegation. A small media storm recently blew over in India about a Thales slush fund allegedly used to grease foreign deals, as India was not mentioned specifically. Girard signed the deal and pooh poohed the notion, telling The Hindu that the accusation comes from a dismissed employee.