Uncertainty over AIP for Indian Scorpene submarines

Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) is developing an AIP Plug for the fifth and sixth Scorpene submarines, which would be installed on them only if the development is completed within the schedule of the construction of the two submarines.

Scorpene class submarine | Copyright DCNS

There is uncertainty over the possibility of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) being installed in the last two of the six Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

Indian Navy chief, Admiral D.K. Joshi told reporters at the annual Navy Day press conference on Monday that the task of indigenous development of an AIP Plug for the fifth and sixth Scorpene submarines has been given to the Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) of the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and would be installed on them only if the development is completed within the schedule of the construction of the two submarines.

“AIP plugs for the fifth and sixth of (Project) 75 are under consideration. DMRL (sic, actually NMRL) has been tasked to develop that. It is doing so. What is to be seen is whether the DMRL timeline Matches the delayed production timelines of (Project) 75. In case this comes online in conformity with the fifth and sixth ones they will be put into place, but if for some reason they are not ready at that point in time we would not delay the production timelines.”

The last of the Indian Scorpenes is expected to be delivered by September, 2018.

The French manufacturer of the Scorpene class of submarines, DCNS, had earlier offered to install its own AIP Plug on the the two Indian Scorpene submarines.

Air Independent Propulsion is an auxiliary system for increasing the endurance of the boat’s sub-surface operability. The DCNS system, known as MESMA (Module d’Energie Sous-Marine Autonome), is based on the combustion of stored oxygen and ethanol to augment battery-powered propulsion.

Joshi also said the NMRL development of the AIP Plug could be utilized for the second line of submarines to be constructed under the Project 75 (India) program. “This would become an option for any of the subsequent indigenous options,” he said, confirming, “The next line will have an AIP plug.”

Joshi said the he expected progress on Project 75 (India). “In so far as the second line (submarines) RFP is concerned, it’ll be out very soon. DAC (Defense Acquisitions Council) approval has already been accorded for it.”

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