SSNs are nuclear-powered, but do not carry nuclear weapons, unlike nuclear-powered ballistic-missile-carrying ships called SSBNs.
The development has been in closed talks for over a year and the detailed details are yet to be finalised, but talks are underway, defense agency sources told The Print.
Interestingly, the Horizon 2047 document released after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday gave a hint about the possible plan.
The roadmap detailing the bilateral strategic partnership over the next 25 years said “India and France are ready to explore more ambitious projects to develop the Indian submarine fleet and its capabilities”.
In an interaction on board the French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in Goa in January this year, The Print asked the French ambassador in New Delhi, Emmanuel Lenin, about rumors of India and France possibly joining the SSN.
Asked whether France would help India build nuclear-powered and nuclear-attack submarines like the Russians, he emphasized that the country has a long-standing submarine cooperation with India.
“Naval Group is working with Majagaon Docks Limited and manufacturing the Scorpene submarine in India while fully transferring the technology,” he said. “We want to continue our partnership. Whether India wants to go for P75 I (submarine program) or more Scorpene or even next generation, it is up to India to make up its mind.
Lenain noted that along with Australia, the French offered a new conventional diesel and electric submarine based on its Barracuda class of nuclear-powered submarines. “It can be done,” he said.
Also read: India, France to jointly develop engine to power AMCA fighter, sign MoU for more Scorpene
India’s 30 Year Plan
France operates Barracuda submarines built by Naval Group which is building Scorpene submarines in India in partnership with Mazagon Dockyard Ltd.
Barracuda Submarines, manufactured by Naval Group, has bagged a contract to supply three more Scorpene class diesel-electric submarines to Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL), Mumbai for the Indian Navy.
Currently, India has a 30-year plan, ending in 2030, to include 24 submarines, including 18 diesel-electric and six SSNs.
Out of the 18, the Navy managed to procure only 6 which were Scorpin class submarines.
India also operates at least one SSBN, INS Arihant, with another of the same class almost operational.
Russia is helping India in this project and India is leasing a nuclear submarine called INS Chakra to help train its own crew to operate nuclear submarines.
The original INS cycle initially came to India on a three-year lease that began in 1988. Cycle II was inducted in 2012 and returned to 2021.
However, India and Russia, in 2019, signed a $3 billion deal for the lease of the third SSN – Cycle III – which will likely be in Indian waters by 2025.
(Edited by Paulomi Banerjee)
Also read: Modi in France, Navy gets 10 billion euro boost as proposal for 26 Rafale-MS, 3 Scorpenes
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