France Looks To Equip Indian Navy With Cutting-Edge Submarines, Heavyweight Torpedoes But Russian Action Delays The Plan

The Russia-Ukraine conflict puts a damper on India’s much-awaited DefExpo 2022, prompting the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to postpone the event. The exhibition was originally scheduled to take place from March 10 to March 14 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. 

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The surprise announcement was due to “logistical problems with participants,” according to the ministry. The event could have been an excellent opportunity for India’s indigenous defense sector to showcase its products. Foreign corporations also wanted to demonstrate their arms and equipment in order to attract the Indian armed forces. 

The Naval Group of France, for example, was expected to display cutting-edge technology, as well as submarines, weapons, and also innovative solutions. The company is seen as a leading player in India’s plans to build nuclear-powered submarines.

The company has a long-standing strategic engagement with India. Furthermore, the Naval Group frequently emphasizes its support for the ‘Make in India’ campaign as well as its initiatives to form industrial relationships with the Indian Navy, shipyards, and industry.

In 2008, the Naval Group established its India subsidiary. Called Naval Group India, it is tasked with finding and evaluating local industrial partners for both current and future projects aligned with the ‘Make in India’ program.

A promotional brochure was released by India’s Defense Ministry on February 26, 2022.

Alain Guillou, Senior Executive Vice President (Development), said, “The Naval Group India has paved the way for many successful milestones synced with the ‘Make in India’ policy of the Indian Government.”

In recent years, the Naval Group has been a prominent contender for Indian Navy projects. For the 12th edition of DefExpo, Naval Group was intended to bring the best-in-class future submarine with superior propulsions, armaments – F21 torpedo – and cutting-edge technologies for future usage by the Indian Navy.

The company had promoted the F21 torpedo as the show-stopper at India’s flagship defense show. It is the first heavyweight torpedo, with considerably superior characteristics to any other weapons in its class. It has the ability to complete complex missions independently, according to the manufacturer. 

F21 Heavyweight Torpedo (Naval Group image)

This torpedo has a high level of computational capability, allowing it to perform extraordinary real-time processing, possess improved autonomy, and have an advanced mission system. The Naval Group is a manufacturer, integrator, and developer of advanced battle management systems for these torpedoes.

“It also undertakes the task of seamlessly integrating this torpedo on-board the Scorpene submarines which are part of the Indian Navy’s submarine fleet,” the company said.

The French company also had planned to showcase its newest submarine concept, the SMX 31E, which incorporates cutting-edge digital technologies for increased operational efficiency and versatility. Steadier for improved operational efficiency and substantial diversity of use.

It boasts more stealth features thanks to a new scaled biomimetic coating. According to the business, the submarine design’s endurance, which allows the crew to be submerged for months, is another salient feature of the platform. It also comes with a “revolutionary propulsion system”.

SMX31E ‘Concept Submarine’ (Naval Group image)

The new generation submarine will be able to monitor areas ten times greater than previous models, and it will employ powerful artificial intelligence technology to provide maximum connectivity with the rest of the fleet in a distributed underwater network, the company claims.

This innovative digital design will aid the crew in swiftly collecting and processing data from remote sensors, allowing them to handle underwater tactical situations.

Franco-Indian Nuclear Sub Project?

A mockup of the Barracuda-class new generation of French fast attack (SSN) submarine was also to be displayed by the Naval Group. The company claims the nuclear-powered vessel is capable of performing a wide range of missions, including information collection, special operations, deep strikes, anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare.

France is thought to be offering this submarine to the Indian Navy. It was claimed in December last year, during French Defense Minister Florence Parly’s visit to Delhi, that Paris had proposed its Barracuda nuclear attack submarine for the Indian Navy’s Project 75 Alpha. 

Naval Group is reportedly offering this submarine to India for its Project 75 Alpha. Under this project, the Indian Navy aims to procure new nuclear-powered attack submarines. This project became more vital for France in the wake of the AUKUS snub as the country lost a lucrative submarine deal with Australia.

The fact that France was not included in the AUKUS (US, UK, and Australia) agreement evoked a strong reaction from Paris. Recently, it was reported that France has even removed Australia from its list of close “strategic partners” as the European nation plans a new Indo-Pacific strategy. 

The ‘Barracuda’ attack submarine – Twitter

Regardless of the fact that this was a major setback for France, many analysts believed it was a positive thing for India’s defense industry.

Amit Gupta, Associate Professor at the USAF Air War College, in his Op-ed for EurAsian Times wrote, “France is smarting under the rejection by Australia of the conventional submarine deal and it may well be interested in providing the technology to India. Also, Paris sees itself as a player in the Indo-Pacific and such a move would strengthen its credentials as a partner in the region.