A billion dollar submarine project with India?

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Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stands on the bridge of the Indian Navy’s guided missile destroyer INS Mormugao. © Britta Pedersen/dpa

During Defense Minister Pistorius’ visit to India, joint submarine building with the country took shape. SPD politicians are campaigning for a possible arms deal.

Mumbai – German and Indian shipbuilders signed declarations of intent for a multibillion-dollar submarine project during the visit of Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. Under the protocol of the agreement, representatives from ThyssenKrupp Marinesystems (TKMS) and Indian shipyard Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders laid the foundation stones on Wednesday in Mumbai for the delivery of a total of up to six submarines.

“We sent a very important signal today. A milestone can be said for a beacon project in mainstream technology,” said the SPD politician in the Indian port metropolis, where he visited Indian armed forces facilities and shipyards.

No decision yet

The government in New Delhi is looking for a joint venture partner for the local production of six submarines in India, but nothing has been decided yet. According to reports, bidders from Spain and South Korea are still in progress. An amount of more than five billion euros was recently mentioned as a possible volume of such transactions. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders is the only company in India that builds submarines and destroyers. The Indian company has 1500 employees.

If there is an order, TKMS will be in charge of the construction and design of the submarine and for consulting activities, while Shipbuilder Mazagon Dock will be in charge of construction and delivery, the German company said. And: “Construction of the new submarine will take place in India and thereby make a significant contribution to local value creation.”

Is this the first big step?

In particular, the company is concerned about the potential for building conventional submarines with independent air propulsion. “We can look back on decades of trusting partnership with India. The boats we built and delivered for customers in the 1980s are still in use today,” explained TKMS boss Oliver Burkhard, who traveled to the signing ceremony. The project has been in negotiations for several years but could now be the first major step in deeper military cooperation between Germany and India.

A day earlier, after talks in New Delhi, Pistorius called for India to be treated as a strategic partner like Australia and Japan, thereby significantly facilitating arms cooperation. For Japan and Australia, simplified rules apply to arms deals, as they do not belong to a group of so-called third countries, but are equal partners in NATO. You can buy from a German arms company without a complicated approval process, but the federal government can still refuse. dpa

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