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India to launch bidding process by October to build 6 submarines worth Rs 55,000 crore

New Delhi: Indian government is likely to launch the bidding process by October for a Rs 55,000-crore mega project to build six conventional submarines for the Navy to narrow the gap with China's growing naval prowess.

The submarines will be built in India under the much-talked-about strategic partnership model that allows domestic companies to join hands with leading foreign defence majors to produce high-end military platforms in the country and reduce import dependence.

The sources said the groundwork like specifications of the submarines and other critical requirements for issuance of the RFP (request for proposal) for the mega project, named as P-75 I, has been completed by separate teams of the defence ministry and the Indian Navy.

The defence ministry has already shortlisted two Indian shipyards and five foreign defence majors for the project, being billed as one of the biggest "Make in India" ventures.

The shortlisted Indian entities were L&T group and state-owned Mazagaon Docks Ltd (MDL) while the select foreign entities included ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Navantia (Spain) and Naval Group (France).

Initially, the defence ministry will issue RFPs to MDL and L&T and the two firms will have to submit their detailed bid after receiving the document. Subsequently, the L&T and MDL will have to select a foreign partner out of the five shortlisted entities, the sources said.

The Indian Navy plans to acquire 24 new submarines, including six nuclear attack submarines, to bolster its underwater fighting capability. It currently has 15 conventional submarines and two nuclear submarines.

The Navy has been focusing on significantly bolstering its overall capabilities because of China's growing efforts to increase its military presence in the Indian Ocean Region.

The Indian Ocean, considered the backyard of the Indian Navy, is critical to the country's strategic interests.

According to global naval analysts, the Chinese navy currently has over 50 submarines and about 350 ships. The total number of ships and submarines is projected to go past 500 in the next 8-10 years.

The Indian Navy is also in the process of procuring 57 carrier-borne fighter jets, 111 Naval Utility Helicopters (NUH) and 123 multi-role helicopters under the strategic partnership model.

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