FILE PHOTO: An employee looks at the new Type 218SG submarine after it was christened to the name of “Illustrious” at the thyssenkrupp marine systems shipyard in Kiel, northern Germany, on December 13, 2022. (Photo by GREGOR FISCHER/AFP via Getty Images)
GERMANY’s Thyssenkrupp AG is likely to bid for a project to supply six submarines for the Indian Navy, German defence minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday (6), during a visit to New Delhi.
Earlier, Pistorius met his counterpart Rajnath Singh, at a time when the south Asian nation is looking to boost domestic defence manufacturing as it aims to counter China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean.
“We talked about a concrete cooperation in military procurement. That could be six submarines from TKMS,” Pistorius said, referring to the firm’s marine arm. “That could be a lighthouse project.”
Thyssenkrupp’s marine arm is expected to sign the deal with the Indian company on Wednesday (7), a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.
In February, Reuters reported that Thyssenkrupp would bid for the $5.2-billion project in a bid to replace the navy’s ageing submarine fleet, as Western military manufacturers attempt to wean New Delhi from its dependence on Russian gear.
German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung first reported that an MoU between Thyssenkrupp and India’s Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders would be signed on Wednesday, with the value of the agreement expected to be about €7 billion. In March, India approved a budget of Rs 560 billion ($6.8bn) for its navy, which has 16 conventional submarines, 11 of them more than two decades old, along with two indigenous nuclear-powered submarines.
“India’s skilled workforce and competitive costs along with Germany’s high technologies and investment can further strengthen ties,” Singh said in a statement that did not refer to the submarines, however.
Mazagon Dock did not immediately respond to a request for comment while Thyssenkrupp declined to comment.
The submarines will be built under the much-talked-about strategic partnership model that allows Indian domestic defence manufacturers to join hands with leading foreign defence majors to produce high-end military platforms to reduce import dependence.
Pistorius arrived in Delhi on Monday on a four-day visit to India. It is the first visit of a German defence minister to India since 2015.
He said Europe has a role to play in the Indo-Pacific region.
“I think we should and we can and we ought to do more in that region (Indo-Pacific) in a partnership with India. Because we are approaching times when we cannot really predict what is going to happen in the next few years,” Pistorius told the media in German.
“And we need strategic partners like Indonesia, like India, for example, to make sure that the law of free navigation and the free trading routes will be achievable during the next decade too,” he said.
“We have totally agreed about the German and European role in the Indo-Pacific. We agreed that more engagement of Europe and Germany is necessary to play a relevant part in that game – it is not a game, but you know what I mean,” the minister added.
On Berlin’s role in the Indo-Pacific, the German defence minister indicated his country will deploy military assets in the region next year as well.
He said India appreciated the Indo-German military exercise.
“We were both of the same opinion. We need more cooperation, literally, not just by exercises but also by cooperation in the defence industry elements and we are working on it,
for example, regarding the submarines, but also regarding other materials we are talking about,” he said.
In October, German Ambassador Phillip Ackermann said India should play the role of a “guide” in the overall global efforts to ensure a free, open and rules-based Indo-Pacific.