When Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by six senior Cabinet ministers, comes to India on October 4 for inter-governmental consultations, defence cooperation and military trade will be on the table for discussion. The focus of military trade will be on sharing of state-of-the-art technology for various platforms for the Indian armed forces.
German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen, who was in New Delhi in May this year, lobbied for the purchase of German and European military hardware with defence minister Manohar Parrikar and other senior officials.
There has been no major procurement from Germany since 1989 when India bought Class 209 submarines. But in recent years, big German defence manufacturers including Atlas Elektronik, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and Diehl Defence, have been bidding and participating in various bids and projects of the Indian armed forces.
Bremen-based Atlas Elektronik last year in November signed the contract for the active towed array sonars (ACTAS) and is also participating in a number of other programmes of the Indian Navy.
Talking to FE, Khalil Rahman, CEO, Atlas Electronik India, said, “Currently, we are bidding for three very important programmes which include the IADS programme, an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) suite consisting of a sonar, a decoy and a fire-control system. Also, for the sonar systems for 16 shallow water ASW craft. Each of these 16 ships will be equipped with a hull-mounted sonar and low-frequency variable depth sonar (LFVDS). This is a specialised ASW craft designed to operate in littoral waters.”
And the third bid is for the towed-array sonars for eight Kilo class submarines, Rahman added.
Almost eight years ago, New Delhi cancelled a deal for helicopters produced by the European defence giant, the then EADS (now Airbus); in another case, Rheinmetall Air Defense, a Switzerland-based subsidiary of the German automotive and defense company Rheinmetall, was banned from the Indian arms market for its involvement in a bribery scandal.
In 2011, the Munich-based tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann signed a cooperation agreement with Indian company Ashok Leyland Defence to jointly develop “artillery systems, combat systems, armoured wheeled vehicles, recovery vehicles, bridge laying systems and other similar products” for Indian and international markets.
Diehl Defence, a Nuremberg-based manufacturer of missile and rocket systems, opened a liaison office in New Delhi in late March.
According to German publication Der Spiegel, Germany and India are already in talks over the possible acquisition of six small German Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) diesel-electric submarines, equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems, for a total cost of $ 11 billion. The subs would be built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel.
TKMS has announced that it is working on several projects with Indian companies. “All of them share in common the client’s demand for technology transfer as well as the demand for the integration of Indian devices and facilities. That is established practice,” said a company executive. While the TKMS does not have its own production locations in India, it has successfully worked together with local shipyards and suppliers for some time.