‘Strategic Partnership’ Defence Projects Have Yet To Take Off After Five Years
- " The deadline for submitting bids in P-75I, for example, has been repeatedly extended, and now stands at June 30," according to another source.
- The SP model was created with the intention of gradually developing capacities in the Indian private sector to design, develop, and produce complex weaponry for the armed forces' future needs.
Not a single project has taken off under the much-touted ‘Make in India’ strategy five years after the strategic partnership (SP) model was promulgated to increase domestic defence manufacturing through tie-ups with international arms manufacturers.
Long-term joint ventures between Indian companies and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) with “deep and extensive” technology transfers were among the SP model projects identified by the defence ministry, ranging from the manufacture of new-generation submarines and helicopters to advanced fighters and futuristic main-battle tanks.
However, the first project, Project-75 India (P-75I), to build six diesel-electric stealth submarines with airindependent propulsion for greater underwater endurance at an initial estimated cost of Rs 43,000 crore, is still a long way from being signed after the lengthy initial shortlisting and tender process.
The defence ministry sent the RFP (request for proposal) in July of last year to Mazagon Docks, a defence shipyard, and L&T, a private shipbuilder, who were to team up with one of the five shortlisted OEMs to submit techno-commercial proposals for the massive project.
Naval Group-DCNS (France), Rosoboronexport (Russia), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), Navantia (Spain), and Daewoo (South Korea) were the foreign shipbuilders (South Korea). “Both the French and the Russians have publicly withdrawn from the competition. Two more people have raised concern about the technical and commercial situations,” a defence official said on Tuesday.
The other SP initiatives are still in the early stages of development. One of them is the Navy’s long-awaited purchase of 111 armed, twin-engine utility choppers for over Rs 21,000 crore to replace its single-engine Chetak helicopter fleet.
Another is the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) quest for 114 new 4.5-generation fighters with “some fifth-generation capabilities” for over Rs1.25 lakh crore, which has seven international candidates but has failed to receive the defence ministry’s initial “acceptance of necessity.”
The Army also published an RFI (request for information) in May-June of last year for the acquisition of 1,770 “future ready combat vehicles” or tanks in a staggered way.
“All of the SP model initiatives are stalled, raising serious doubts about the policy as a whole.” The deadline for submitting bids in P-75I, for example, has been repeatedly extended, and now stands at June 30,” according to another source.
“The SP model policy’s pricing methodology, which was announced in May 2017, is incorrect. Furthermore, long-term collaborations necessitate consistent and recurring orders, which are now prohibited under the guidelines,” he noted.
The SP model was created with the intention of gradually developing capacities in the Indian private sector to design, develop, and produce complex weaponry for the armed forces’ future needs. “However, the public sector pushed its way in as well. “The entire approach needs to be reexamined,” an official stated.