India and France on Thursday signed a Rs 15,400 crore ($3.5 billion) deal to manufacture six advanced stealth characteristic Scorpene submarines in Mumbai's Mazagoan Docks.
Scorpene, touted world's most silent underwater killer machine, would be manufactured under full-technology transfer by the state-owned Mazagoan Docks and delivered between 2012 and 2017. French Ambassador Dominique Girard and Additional Secretary Ministry of Defence S Banerjee signed the agreement.
As part of the deal, the submarines will be armed with EADS SM39 Exocet sub-harpoon anti-ship missiles. The other powerful weapons on the subs include Black Shark and other advanced torpedoes.
With the capability to strike targets underwater, on surface and on land, Scorpene has a radical new design with reduced sound emissions, which enables the submarines to strike at long-distances without detection. The Scorpene is based on designs of the French Nuclear submarines.
The agreement gives India the option of incorporating the advanced air propulsion technology for even lesser sound emissions, on the delivery of the third of the six submarines, Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash said after signing the deal in South Block.
Stating that India had got a 'fair deal', Defence ministry officials said for the first time, offset as well as integrity clause had been built into the agreement.
Also a first, an integrity pact seeking to ensure avoidance of all forms of corruption and free, fair and transparent dealings in negotiations leading to the agreement and during its duration was also signed.
The agreement was signed by Thomas Mathew, Joint secretary (acquisitions) and Pierre Legros, Chairman of French makers, Armaris.
Prakash said the agreement would ensure that Indian submarine-building lines, which were lying idle for the past 11 years would be revived. He said the Navy was going ahead with plans to equip itself with 24 submarines in 30 years.
He said even after the induction of the French submarines, the Navy would still be in shortfall. "We propose to press the government for more subs," he said.
Defence ministry officials said after the first two submarines were delivered, the Mazagoan docks would be at full liberty to change the shape of the vessels to provide, if need arose, for installation of more lethal weapons, including missiles.
Prakash said India had kept open the option of building more submarines after the expiry of the present contract but added the new agreement would have to be entered into with the French company.
Another contract signed between Armaris and Mazagoan docks provides for presence of team of French technical advisers during the construction of the first two submarines.