Even as the Navy gets ready to induct its first conventional submarine in almost two decades, sources have confirmed that a decision has been reached on an expensive and time consuming process to install Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on the six new Scorpene submarines to be inducted over the next few years.
However, it is contingent on the indigenous AIP module being fully ready by then.
“All six Scorpenes will get an Indian AIP. It will be installed by the Original Equipment Manufacturer, Naval Group,” a Navy source confirmed.
An AIP module is under development by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It was supposed to have been installed on the last two submarines before they rolled out of the production line. However, the module did not materialise due to delays in development.
As reported by The Hindu earlier, Naval Group, formerly the DCNS — a defence company based in France — proposed this option after attempts to install the domestic system on the last two submarines failed.
AIP modules give stealth and extended endurance to diesel-electric submarines by allowing them to stay submerged longer.
However, it would be a costly process as the hull of the submarine has to be opened up to integrate the AIP module and then sealed before being put through the entire range of tests and trials to validate its performance.
The first Scorpene submarine Kulvari has completed all trials and is ready for induction either by this month-end or early next month. It would go for a normal refit after six years, in 2023.
The DRDO has assured that the system will be fully ready by then for integration, the source added.
The second submarine Khanderi has begun trials, and is likely to be inducted early next year.