After an eight year hiatus, the Indian Navy has made a crucial decision for the upgrade of its T-1500 fleet of submarines. It has been decided that a midlife upgrade of four T-1500 class submarines with technical assistance of Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) Group of Germany will be carried out.
The preliminary proposal to upgrade the four T-1500 submarines was approved last week in New Delhi at the Indo-German Defence Committee meeting which was co-chaired by Indian and German Defence Ministry officials.
As per the midlife upgradation plan, the T-1500 submarine will undergo replacement of the weapon control system, data link system, torpedoes and missiles. The $ 100 million per piece upgrade has been envisaged for early next year and will be carried out in the state-owned Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) in Bombay.
The T-1500 submarines, or HDW underwater vessels, belong to the Shishumar class of submarines which were delivered to Indian Navy by HDW of Germany in mid-80s and inducted by 1991.The move to upgrade the HDW submarines has become urgent since the induction of the Scorpene submarine under the Project-75 of Indian Navy is getting delayed. The induction of Scorpene submarine is now expected to take place in 2015 as opposed to this year. Beside the German HDW submarine, the Indian government is also going in for the upgrade of its Russian Kilo class submarine due to serious depletion in its submarine fleet.
The saga of the upgrade of the HDW underwater vessels had begun since their induction in 1991. The upgrade was stalled by Indian government earlier despite the Indian Navy’s persistent pleas. According to sources, the four HDW submarines have been in disrepair for about four years. The HDW Group was also black-listed by India and investigations started by 1991 due to dubious financial dealings of the company. Two of the submarines were given by HDW and two were built with their assistance in MDL by late 1980s. With the banning of HDW, the upgrade for the submarines was now to be achieved by other European firms including Paris-based Armaris, the joint venture of French shipyard DCN and Thales, and IZAR Construcciones Navales, Madrid. However, none of this materialized and the submarines remained in a stae of disrepair. With spare parts for the submarine being sourced at higher prices from elsewhere, Indian Navy urged the Indian government to lift the ban on HDW of Germany to carry out the upgrades.