After years of delay, Indian Navy is all set to sign a deal with a South Korean defence major for building 12 minesweeping vessels at a cost of nearly Rs 35,000 crore. Controller of the Navy's Warship Production and Acquisition Vice Admiral D M Deshpande said issues between Goa Shipyard and the South Korean collaborator in the project have been sorted out and the deal should be sealed by the end of this year. The Navy's existing fleet of six Soviet-origin minesweeping ships will be decommissioned by the end of 2018. The parliamentary standing committee on defence had recently criticised the government on the issue and asked it to make efforts to fill the gap in the Navy's capability. Deshpande said a contract for procurement of Landing Platform Docks (LPD) will also be finalised by the end of this year. The Navy had been planning to procure four 20,000-ton LPD at a cost of around USD 2 billion. "I can confidently say that by the end of the year, we should be able to sign the contract for the LPD," Deshpande said at an interactive session at FICCI. Asked about the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-II) project, he said the Navy will be able to approach the Defence Ministry in the next two-three months for funds for the project as ground work on it being finalised. "It is a big ticket item. There is a lot of positivity both from the government side as well as the Navy. May be in two-three months, we will be in a position to take up the issue with the (defence) ministry to get funds," he said. It will be the second indigenous aircraft carrier and will be one of the largest across the world. Deshpande also said the Navy is looking at procuring 57 aircraft.
The Navy had last year rejected the naval version of the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. "We are looking at 57 aircraft which we plan to induct. That is in the pipeline," he said. The senior Navy official said if the government strategic partnership model does not come through, then the Navy may look for buying submarines through other routes. "We need the submarines badly," he said. It may be a follow-up of the deal for scorpene submarines or there may be government-to-government discussions. Six Scorpene submarines are being built under Project 75. The submarines, designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS, are being built by Mazagon Dock Ltd in Mumbai.