India and France will step up negotiations to expand the Scorpene submarine contract after the presidential elections in France in May. India will push for incorporating several upgrades in the proposed three new submarines that the two sides would be discussing, a senior defence official told The Hindu .
“We will look at the cost of the upgrades based on which we will take a call whether to go for the additional ones or carry on with the acquisition of the next line of submarines as planned,” the official said.
Mazgaon Docks Ltd. (MDL), Mumbai, is manufacturing six Scorpene conventional submarines with technology transfer from DCNS under a $3.75-billion deal signed in October 2005.
After a series of delays, the first submarine Kalvari is now in advanced stages of sea trials and expected to be commissioned in a few months. The second submarine Khanderi was launched in January.
Another official said that detailed discussions would be held at the India-France strategic dialogue expected around December. As per plan, all submarines are expected to be launched from MDL by 2020 and both sides are on to firm up a deal before that to keep the production line running and preserve the expertise.
The upgrades will help address concerns of any compromise in the submarine’s capability following the leak of its technical specifications in Australia last year.