Taigei class submarines to India:
To offset the Chinese military’s rising influence in the subcontinent, the current Japanese government plans to authorise the transfer of lethal weapons to 12 countries starting in 2023, including India.
The Indian Ministry of Defence had asked its Japanese counterparts a few years ago to offer the Indian Navy their Soryu class of attack submarines, which were developed for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, as part of the Project-75I programme, where the Indian Navy plans to acquire six new conventional diesel electric submarines for its fleet.
The Taigei class of submarines is an improved variant of the Soryu class with a much larger unit of Lithium-ion batteries, allowing the submarine to turn off its diesel electric propulsion system and run entirely on battery power for extended periods underwater, greatly increasing underwater endurance. The Taigei class will also be more advanced due to the addition of updated equipment such as sonar systems and snorkel power generation systems with less acoustic signature.
Back in India, the Project-75I programme has run into rough waters. With the exception of South Korea’s offer of the KSS-III class next generation diesel electric attack submarine, every other vendor has dropped out, citing either a lack of proven Air Independent Propulsion technology and Lithium-ion battery system in their submarine or strict Technology Transfer clauses.
If offered, the Taigei class might be a welcome option for India, as it will avoid a single vendor situation and prevent the tender from being cancelled, which could have resulted in retendering and major delays in the programme. The Taigei class has all of the technologies necessary to launch India’s own conventional diesel electric submarine programme if it is fully integrated.