6th Scorpene submarine being built under 2005 deal launched at MDL Mumbai

Big milestone for $2.8 Bn programme, last of the French-designed submarines set to be inducted by late-2023

Photo Credit : Indian Navy,

As per naval tradition, the 6th Indian Navy Scorpene submarine was named Vagsheer and launched by Veena Kumar, wife of Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar

Vagsheer, the sixth and last of the Scorpene attack submarines being acquired for the Indian Navy under Project 75 was launched on April 20 at Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) at a ceremony presided over by Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar. 

This marks a significant milestone towards the culmination of a Rs 18,798 Crore deal for the six submarines which was signed by India with the French DCNS (now the Naval Group) and its sister concern Armaris in 2005.MDL is the manufacturing agency under a transfer of technology pact with the Naval Group. The deal has been marred by a 5-year delay and a cost escalation of over Rs 2,800 Crore. 

The Vagsheer is scheduled to be handed over to the Indian Navy as an operational platform by late 2023. The April 20 launch - or the floating of the submarine hull in water – will be followed by integration of machinery, equipment, sensors and weapon systems by teams at MDL. This will lead to extensive and rigorous sea acceptance trials before the submarine is deemed ready for operational service.  

The first of the Indian Navy Scorpenes – christened the Kalvari - was commissioned into the Navy in December 2017. Four Scorpene submarines – dubbed the Kalvari class – are in operational service  in the Indian Navy so far. The fifth is under seatTrials and is likely to be inducted this year. 

An industrial ecosystem of more than 50 Indian MSMEs grew around the Scorpene project to supply parts. “We are proud of this successful cooperation with MDL and we stand by their side and are ready to assist for future projects. We celebrate the success of “Make in India” while moving towards a true sense of “Atmanirbhar” naval defence industry,” Alain Guillou, EVP International Development at Naval Group said on the occasion. 

A statement by the French Naval Group declared that “future projects are not limited to submarines, thus contributing to industrial and technological sovereignty”. 

“We value our long-term relation and collaboration with India and its navy and our teams are committed to keep on meeting their expectations,” Guillou added, aligning the Naval Group with the Make in India agenda.

In keeping with Naval tradition of warships being put to water for the first time by a lady, the Vagsheer was launched at the Kanhoji Angre Wet Basin of MDL by Veena Kumar, the wife of the Defence Secretary. 

The ceremony was attended by senior naval officers including Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command Vice Admiral AB Singh, Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, and officials from Director General De Ĺ Armament, France and the Naval Group.  

The induction of the Scorpene, a stealthy, 2,000-ton displacement conventional attack submarine, marks the modernisation of the Indian Navy submarine arm. The last new conventional submarine was inducted by the Indian Navy almost two decades ago. Before the induction of the Scorpenes, the Indian conventional submarine fleet consisted of the Russian-made Kilo class and the German HDWs. Two of the four HDW submarines were made at MDL in the 1990s under a controversial deal of the 1980s which was marred by charges of corruption.  

The Scorpene has been designed for all types of missions, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, long-range strikes, special operations and intelligence gathering. A high level of operating automation allows a smaller crew, which reduces operating costs significantly.

Six weapon launching tubes and 18 weapons, including torpedoes and missiles give it a combat edge. “With 14 submarines sold around the world, the Scorpene is a key reference of conventional attack submarines (SSK) for navies around the world. It can be easily adapted to specific requirements of customers and the continuous improvement of the Scorpene ensures the seamless integration of the latest technology onboard,” the Naval Group stated. 


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