An IDC Analysis 


New Delhi, 26 January 2003

Scorpene class submarine under construction for Chilean Navy - DCN photo

The foreign media recently released two despatches dated 21 and 24 Jan and they are revealing. We post both of them below, to indicate that the $2 billion Scorpene submarine deal, to build six boats at Mazagon Dock, Mumbai, is now close to finalisation. It seems likely that Mr L K Advani Dy PM discussed this in Paris along with the other isues like terrorism and signing of the Extradition Treaty. He must be aware of all the specifics, now that he has a full-fledged Dy PMO and all Cabinet Papers of defence acquisitions are routed through him. Mr Ajay Prasad, former Addl Secretary Defence is the head of Dy PMO. 

The French Prime Minister Raffarin is coming to Aero India 2003 at Bangalore on 06 Feb and IDC will cover the show, which is being separately previewed. The show cannot be missed by any supplier or potential supplier of defence goods. The who’s who of defence purchasers in India will be at the show including the Defence Minister and senior to mid level bureaucrats. DCN which is building the Pakistani Agosta Bs is the same company for the Indian Scorpenes.

We are in a position to send exclusive daily reports of the happenings at Bangalore from 0509 Feb, so please contact us at or by E-mail.

1. BBC, 24 Jan 2003

“India and France are expected to sign a bilateral extradition treaty during a visit by India's Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani. India believes that such treaties will help with intelligence sharing and lead to coordinated action against terrorism. It already has similar treaties with Britain, Germany, Italy and the US. Mr. Advani will also finalise a defence deal worth more than two billion dollars involving the building of six French-designed Scorpene submarines in Mumbai.”

2. News International, 21 Jan 2003

“Indian and French sources have announced an agreement worth USD 2 billion to build six Scorpene submarines in India. Under the agreement, India, will also receive 36 missiles from a European consortium. Sources said that the deal is complete and is now awaiting approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security.”

The Scorpene Story

So here is the SCORPENE story, just as the media reported that the CBI was withdrawing the investigation into the so called HDW scandal –– acquisition of HDW submarines from erstwhile West Germany. A number of naval personnel who were unnecessarily dragged into the case now stand vindicated, but those who got the gravy will now rest easy. It was the Navy, which lost out as for several years no submarine was built at MDL. On the other hand Pakistan just announced its home built Agosta B class submarines, the second of which after Khalid is undergoing sea trials. The same company DCN, which will supply India the Scorpenes is building the Agostas. 

In the late 70s India signed an agreement with Howaldstswerke (HDW) of Germany to build four plus two 1500 ton submarines based on the Gabler IKL design. INS Shishumar (S 44) and Shankush (S 45) were commissioned in 1986 at Kiel. Two more were successfully built at Mazagon Docks when INS Shalki (S 46) and Shankul (S 47) costing some $100 million each were commissioned at the Mumbai yard in 1986 and 1989 respectively .The negotiations for the last two submarine kits were in progress in 1986, when an innocuous telegram from the Indian Ambassador in Germany to the Government of India in New Delhi, inquired if the same commission terms paid for the first four kits were applicable to the fifth and sixth kits also –– the cat was out of the bag!

The furor led to a CBI inquiry and a court case followed which put paid to HDW submarine building in India. The hunt for the names of the recipients of the commission is still being pursued and the Indian Navy went on to acquire 10 Kilo class boats from Russia. Though Mazagon Dock had been refitting the four HDW Shishumar class boats for the Indian Navy, the core submarine building team especially the welders and assemblers have since been disbanded, due to lack of orders which is a big loss to the nation. The US stopped supplies for the Submarines and now Indian Navy is upgrading two with German Periscopes and Fire Control. The CBI case is being closed.

Hence it is heartening that after a lull of 12 years the Indian Navy has finally got the green signal for construction of six Franco–Spanish Scorpene Submarines under Project 75 at Mazagon Dock. Each of the submarines is expected to cost around 15 billion rupees ($300 million). The technology will be transferred by DCN and Thales of France and this will give Indian ship building another boost in welding expertise, modular ship building and electronics as also shore up Mazdocks' order book.

The submarines are similar but more advanced than the earlier and proven HDW boats as they will have options on the Module Energie Sous–Marin Auotonome (MESMA) Air Independent steam Propulsion AIP, to enable operation under water for days without surfacing. Only three countries Sweden, Germany and France have this ability and it will be a new high for the Indian Navy, which has always led the other services in absorbing latest technology and transferring its benefits to industry. In fact in all seminars the Navy model of building ships with collaboration of DRDO and its own WEESE research set up is being quoted for the Army and IAF to follow.

The Scorpene design is capable of taking a small nuclear reactor in the hull in the future, and is therefore an ideal choice for Indian Navy’s long term nuclear ambitions as it is building its own larger nuclear submarine the ATV, now that the Nuclear Command and Triad has been announced. DCN audited the HDW boat and Mazagon Dock capabilities and offered the Scorpene in which IZAR of Spain is indirectly involved. The four lead Chilean Navy Scorpenes are being jointly built by DCN of France and Izar of Spain. India and the French-led consortium began negotiations for the Scorpene package some two years ago with NHQ rightly insisting on technology transfers.

It was on the basis of its accumulated experience, that in 1991 the Spanish shipbuilder IZAR which now owns Bazan, decided to pursue its own third generation conventional submarine design that would be appropriate for the growing international market, sharing 50% of the risk with a foreign partner. Izar teamed up with the French company DCN and in 1992 based on their long experience of working together, commenced the definition phase of a medium-sized conventional attack boat of 1,500 tons. The unique aspect of the design concept was that it can integrate any equipment or technology solution or weapon system the customer nominates and the Indian Navy is in the process of finalizing its own selections under Project 75.

The Chilean Navy ordered four Scorpenes in 1998 and two boats are currently under construction in Spain and France. The “O Higgins” is due to commission in 2004 and the “Carrera” in 2006 and Indian constructors will gain from the live on job training and the building philosophy in modules, which is similar to what India’s ATV project is following. The Chilean Scorpene submarines are built in four blocks, two of them by Izar at Cartagena Spain and the other two by DCN in Cherbourg France. The two built in France incorporate the bow section which includes the torpedo tubes, bow chamber, control room and accommodation . The Spaniards are building the stern section which includes the tail cone with propulsion, engine room and battery chamber. Unlike the double deck 10 Russian Kilo class submarines that the Indian Navy has been operating, the Scorpenes are single decked.

In the first Chilean boat the Spanish blocks will be taken to Cherbourg where they will be welded and assembled. The weapon system will be integrated and tested for sea trials off Chebourg. In the case of the second it will be the reverse. The DCN blocks will be taken to Cartagena where the rest of the operation will be carried out. The Scorpene can be described as a submarine of new design philosophy that incorporates the latest advances and trends in conceptualisation and technology, but based on the principle of low cost in both the project execution and construction phases via the modular system. It further incorporates operation by fewer crew and a maintenance cycle of 50 mission capability days 2000 miles away .The Scorpene’s length is 61.7 metres and is propelled by the CM-2000 version of the Jeumont Schneider 2,900 kW electronic engine, with a fixed pitch seven bladed propeller. The compressed air and water cooling and power supply is provided by four Izar/MTU 396 12V SE 84, de 632 kW, diesel-generators at 1,700rpm, or 360 high capacity lead battery elements with tubular boards, electrolyte agitation and water-circuit junction cooling.

All the propulsion elements of the Scorpene and auxiliary equipment are situated in two independent chambers and mounted on elastically suspended structures for silent operation to avoid sonar detection and provided with a dry snorkel system for air intakes for the diesels when snorting just below the surface. The “Scorpene” is manoeuvred by two prolonged rudders, in the upper and lower part of the hull, and four hydroplanes, two aft in the bow keel cross and two in the topsail. The weapon fit is what the Indian Navy has specified and has not been disclosed and the distributed architecture design can be integrated by redundant and re-configurable local area networks to incorporate the Navy’s Staff requirements .The use of high elasticity steels such as H80 and HY80 that require pre-heating to 120o prior to welding is indicative of the complexity of manufacturing these modules and the handsome spin offs the Indian industry will gain.

The operation is carried out using ceramic resistor stacks controlled by special computer equipment, which at the same time regulates the quality of the welding. The welding work will need to be carried out by highly qualified professionals with special physical aptitudes given the extreme difficulty of the operation and the critical need for perfection for the hull to withstand depths of over 300 meters. Mazagon Docks already has experience of this as it acquitted itself well in the earlier HDW programme .

The Indian Navy, Mazdocks and DCN are celebrating and in time this project could change the whole philosophy of modern defence ship building in India just like the Leander project signed with Yarrows did in the 70s .The Indian Navy now has over a dozen variants of the original Leanders and another 6 on order and the project gave birth to some 216 sub assembly suppliers. The Scorpene project is likely to do the same if steered well.

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