Bolstering defence partnerships with India will be the focus of two high level visits from the US and Germany in the first week of June when the US Secretary of Defence Lloyd J Austin III as well as the Defence Minister Boris Pistorius of Germany arrive in India.
The talks in India with the two defence ministers are expected to be Indo-Pacific Region, Maritime Domain awareness, Chinese growing presence in the region, collaboration in defence R&D and production. The ministers will discuss drones, air defence systems, submarines, and initiatives which will strengthen the defence ties with the two countries as all are keen on stability in the Indo-Pacific Region.
India and Germany
The two day visit of the German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on June 6 is expected to focus on discussions related to submarines under Project 75I for building six submarines. Though the agenda of the visit has not been declared officially, sources in the defence and security establishment told Financial Express Online, when he meets his counterpart Rajnath Singh, issues related to Project 75(I), long pending Air Defence Systems from Rheinmetall and more will be discussed.
About seven defence orders are pending export permissions from the German authorities since the last couple of years. A list available with Financial Express Online includes engines and spare parts contracts for companies like M/s Mahle and M/S Rolls Royce Solutions, Germany.
Earlier Financial Express Online has reported that India is planning to build six conventional submarines under Project 75 (I) in collaboration with a foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) under Transfer of Technology since the focus is on `atmanirbharbhart in defence’.
As reported previously Germany leads globally as far as conventional submarine design and technology is concerned. In fact Indian Navy still operates four Type 209 submarines which were built in India and have never gone back to Germany for refits, modernization or repairs as all is done here in India with German Oversight for Certification.
Germany for Project 75 (I)
ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) of Germany is one of international bidders for this project worth US $ 5.2 billion under which six conventional submarines are expected to be built jointly under the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. Korean Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), is also in the race as it fulfils the specifications as mentioned in the RFP.
Financial Express Online has reported earlier that two Indian companies under the Strategic Partnership Model — MDL and Larsen and Toubro are expected to respond to the RFPs later in the year.
Defence cooperation is an important pillar of India-Germany Strategic Partnership and in New Delhi the two ministers are expected to discuss Transfer of Technology for the submarines, co-innovation and co-design in the field of defence. In view of the growing presence of the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean region, India is keen to expedite the Project 75 (I) under an overarching governmental arrangement to enhance its beleaguered undersea warfare capability.
The German and the Indian defence minister are also likely to talk about the different defence projects through government to government process.
The RFP issued by the Ministry of Defence made it clear that it is looking for the vendors who have “sea proven’’ fuel cell Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP), this means that there are only two companies in the world with proven AIP — TKMS and DSME.
A Memorandum of Understanding is likely to be inked between TKMS and Mazagon Dock Limited for the Project 75 I
India & US
The US Secretary of Defence is coming on a two days visit from June 4-5 ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to that country later in the month. The visit comes at a time when the two countries are seeking to further enhance their strategic cooperation under the framework of the US-India Major Defence Partnership. When the US Secretary of Defence meets defence minister Rajnath Singh the two sides will review the status of the Predator drones for the Indian Navy from General Atomics, joint development and manufacturing of engines for the fighter jets in India, as well as collaboration in the space sector.
According to the Pentagon’s statement issued on Friday (May 26, 2023) the visit presents an opportunity to both to promote industrial co-operation, expedite defence innovation and also strengthen the operational collaboration among the militaries of both countries.