Scorpene sub delivery to India delayed

March 18, 2011 at 6:17 PM
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NEW DELHI, March 18 (UPI) -- The first French Scorpene submarine will be delivered to India in 2015, three years later than scheduled.

The announcement came this week from Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony who issued a written statement last Monday in Parliament.

Under a $3.9 billion contract signed between France and India in 2005, the construction of three Scorpene submarines would have begun in December 2006. December 2007 and August 2008, respectively.

Mazagon Docks Limited would then schedule delivery of the submarines beginning December 2012.

Still, Antony told Parliament that the scheduled delivery would be pushed back three years because of technical problems in the construction of the submarines.

"As per the contract, the first submarine was scheduled to be delivered in December 2012 and thereafter, one each every year till December 2017," Antony said. "There have been delays due to initial teething problems, absorption of complex technology, augmentation of MDL infrastructure and procurement" of material.

India is building six Scorpene submarines in collaboration with the French firm DCNS. The public accounts committee had previously slammed the contract as giving 'undue favor to the vendor', resulting in a financial loss to the government, apart from cost and time overruns.

Headed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Murli Manohar Joshi, the committee accused the defense ministry of not affording full information on the extent of the financial loss suffered as a result of the submarine deal.

'The committee deplores the unwarranted stubbornness on the part of the defense ministry not to quantify the exact loss in terms of money due to delayed procurement of submarines for obvious reasons,' the committee said.

The committee had noted that despite a three-tier monitoring system for defense procurements, the acquisition of the submarines got delayed "inordinately," the Sify news Web site reported.

The submarine's delayed delivery comes at a time when the Chinese navy is manufacturing several nuclear submarines, adding to its present fleet of 40 modern submarines.

The Scorpene class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarine jointly developed by the French-based DCN, Spain's Navantia and DCNS. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion.

It is 219 feet long and has a speed of more than 20 knots with a displacement of 1,700 tons. With 31 men onboard, it can remain at sea for about 50 days and can dive a to a depth of more than 1,000 feet.

The Scorpenes are being built in India under the Navy Project 75 which was approved in 1997.

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