France-based defence contractor Naval Group has reportedly withdrawn its participation from the India Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) P-75I submarine project.
The MoD, through the programme, seeks to acquire six conventional submarines for the Indian Navy.
The latest announcement comes a day before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris, where he is expected to meet newly re-elected French President Emmanuel Macron.
As per the reports, the company has cited that it cannot meet certain conditions related to the submarine’s air independent propulsion (AIP) system, published under the request for proposal (RFP).
The marine technology, AIP, provides high underwater endurance to a diesel-powered submarine along with the ability to maintain high speed.
In a statement, Naval Group India country and managing director Laurent Videau said: “Due to certain conditions in the RFP, the two strategic partners could not forward the request to us and few other foreign original equipment manufacturers (FOEMs) and thus we have not been able to place an official bid for the project.
“However, the present RFP requires that the fuel cell air independent propulsion (AIP) be sea proven, which is not the case for us yet since the French Navy does not use such propulsion system.”
Videau added: “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.).”
Naval Group is one of the five foreign companies chosen under the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) for the P-75I project.
The companies are Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), France’s Naval Group, South Korea’s Daewoo Shipping & Marine Engineering (DSME), Spain’s Navantia and Russia’s Rubin Design Bureau.
In June 2021, two Indian shipyards, Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) were issued RFPs for the project. The shipyards and the foreign firms were shortlisted in January 2020.