New Delhi. 19 June 2022. “Navantia will keep on track participating in the projects for Indian Navy along with the strategic partners, driving a good return of investment of the efforts undertaken in the AtmaNirbhar Bharat strategy, helping the Indian Navy to incorporate the desired skills,” stated Fernando Formoso Freire, Director India, Business Development & Commercial Division, NAVANTIA (SEPI Group) in an exclusive interview with Aviation & Defence Universe (ADU).
ADU. How have you been able to develop a plan for a Navantia manufacturing ecosystem for the Indian naval industry?
FFF. Navantia has a highly valuable expertise on the Transfer of Technology programs, with an impressive track record on the international market. India has a very capable industry ecosystem, and Navantia, in combination with the partners for the target programs where Navantia can bring ship design and construction knowledge, is a good asset for the Indian Industry to foster their capacities and skills.
Navantia has developed a specific industrial plan for the countries that has trusted us and has been executed resulting in a significant capabilities increase of the industrial ecosystem. For each specific program, Navantia must focus on the particular needs in close collaboration with the industry to gain the desired level of capabilities. Navantia has worked out so far, a map of possible collaborators for the P75I program. In that sense, Navantia has promoted an Industry Day event (April 2020) where more than 100 Indian companies contacted with Navantia. In the following months all these industries were contacted to know their products and capacities. MoUs or NDAs were signed with these companies, in a bold attitude of building up relationship with the Indian industry ecosystem. More than 400 equipment RFI were sent. 90 main business areas for P75I project were identified, which led around 1500 market consultations. In 2021 when covid situation was becoming more controlled a team travelled to India and had around 40 face to face meeting with Indian suppliers in different cities. As consequence of this, Navantia has a clear view of capacities of Indian Industry. This, together with the Indian Shipyard capacities and supply chain, makes a good starting point for the indigenisation of any naval platform.
ADU. Under the new Strategic Partnership policy Navantia decided on L&T as its partner with in the Indian private sector. Have you together got down to completing the supply chain and creating the ecosystem?
FFF. The OEM selection will be performed by the Strategic Partner (SP), in our knowledge, till date, no OEM has been selected by neither SP, therefore Navantia is waiting for that to happen while preparing the ground to trigger the huge effort that the offer preparation will require. Navantia is ready to work closely with either strategic partner focussing on the capacities of the Indian Industrial Ecosystem, to set up a proper industrial base to ensure the adequate execution of the units to be delivered to the Indian Navy under our design. Navantia is a leading international shipbuilding company, with full ship design capacity, naval systems development, and main equipment and artillery under license manufacturing infrastructure. Those lines of activity enable us to clearly understand the required capacities and to calibrate the capabilities of the Indian Industrial ecosystem. Relying in our capabilities and our experience with other international clients, we are confident in the success of landing the proper supply chain ecosystem for the Indian Navy together with the SP.
ADU. Navantia has been into the Make in India concept but how does it plan to keep pace with AtmaNirbhar Bharat programme of the government?
FFF. It is for sure a pace that will be supported by the Indian Navy programs. Just as in any other international programs in the world, what brings stability in the capacity growing strategies is the approval of long-term programs, relevant enough to maintain the industry busy. Indian Navy has kept a remarkably stable level of fleet modernisation effort for the last decades, which has been very good for the growth of skills and capacities of the industry of India.
ADU. How is your proposed solution in the P 75-I project the S80 Plus, Issac Peral class submarine, most compatible to Indian Navy’s need ?
FFF. Navantia is proud of its adaptative approach to the client needs, focussing on the full compliance of the requirements. As a submarine builder and designer, Navantia is capable to adapt S80 submarine to the highly demanding requirements of the Indian Navy. Submarines are the most sensitive designs to engineering changes, where every piece of equipment is influencing the whole design. On the other hand, the S80 submarine being already a 3000-t size with AIP puts us in a more advantageous position in front of our competitors with smaller boats, in terms of design changes. We firmly believe that our technical solution derived from S80 will be matching the Indian P75 I project better than any other solution, and that the variation we should consider into the design will be more feasible in the S80 design than in any other conventional submarine.
ADU. Which torpedoes do you propose to place on Indian S80?
FFF. Our S80 submarine fits the DM2A4 Heavy weight Torpedo but we have conducted preliminary studies to integrate other torpedoes like Blackshark or Mk48. But it will be up to the choice of the Indian Navy. Navantia, as a submarine designer, will be ready to integrate any kind of torpedo in the submarine. Please note that Navantia is also the S80 combat system developer and integrator, and having this inhouse capability, we are ready to implement whichever solution for the combat system is required.
ADU. Will the S80 have the DRDO made AIP system powering it?
FFF. Navantia S80 submarines for the Spanish Navy will have the Navantia BEST® (Bio-Ethanol Stealth Technology) AIP system, which is based on the Bio-Ethanol reforming technology to produce Hydrogen onboard. All 4 submarines of the Isaac Peral class are going to be fitted with this system, which is safer in terms of avoiding H2 storage, and increases range capacity in terms of liquid storage instead of gaseous storage.
Other than the BEST® AIP technology, there are other technologies available in the market and Navantia could consider the Indian Navy needs to study whether integration engineering effort is compatible with the strategic requirements. So far, Navantia has not studied DRDO made AIP for integration on the S80 submarine with P75(I) in mind.
ADU. Is Navantia ready for Indian government’s transfer of technology clause?
FFF. Even though we have not received yet a copy of the expected P75(I) contract from the SP, we have a clear idea and with our background on ToT programs, we are sure we can get close to the needs of the Indian Government. Considerations are still to be agreed with the SP and the Indian Government to find what is best for the project and adaptative to the objectives of self-reliance on defence sector of Indian Government.
Navantia, as a Spanish Government owned company, understands the difficulties the Indian Government wants to tackle, as we have been ourselves through this dilemma in the past. Navantia can advise about how the defence sector on the maritime domain can achieve a steady and effective knowledge increasing pace.
ADU. Apart from MDL what are Navantia’s existing partnerships with other government shipyards in India?
FFF. As you mentioned, Navantia still has been supporting MDL in the P75 program in its latest stages, but we have cooperated with other government shipyards in the past like GRSE, HSL or KSL. Recently, Navantia has signed an MoU with L&T for the development of an LPD adapted to the requirements of the Indian Navy. On 2021 an RFI has been issued after cancelling the program RFP in 2020 with other technical requirements. Navantia is a company that has the agility on partnering with Indian industry, where we feel confident and happy to have this complete offer on the different activities of the defence sector.
ADU. Does Navantia plan a collaboration with Skill India and Start Up India schemes of the Indian government?
FFF. Navantia always looks for the full satisfaction of the stakeholders and most of all, the end user. Start Up India scheme and Skill India scheme philosophies are indeed somehow embedded in the contractual frame set up in this program, as Navantia´s role in the ongoing projects would be to support the main contractor to settle down the required skills in India for building and maintaining the fleet of submarines. In that sense, it is clear that Navantia will support the industrial plan required by the Indian Government, where innovation and skill upgrading of the Indian Industry will take a good part of the efforts that the latest Indian Naval shipbuilding programs are requiring. Navantia, as in many other occasions, will be supporting the collaboration plans meant to be set up the Local collaborator.
ADU. Does Navantia have technologies which can be added to existing old ships in the Indian fleet to upgrade them to state-of-the-art levels?
FFF. Navantia is a major player in the ship design and building of military and constabulary domain, with an outstanding track record of complex international projects around the globe. As part of its activity, Navantia also performs Mid-Life Upgrades programs, installing state of the art systems and equipment. Navantia company includes its Systems division, in charge of developing and integrate complex systems in naval platforms, with an impressive path done in the main disciplines of naval systems: Combat Management Systems, Integrated Platform Management Systems, Integrated Communication Systems and Navigation Systems. Our valuable experience in the sector regarding the development of complex systems, combined with our track record on performing Through Life Support programs, enables Navantia to install and modernise naval units to bring them to updated capabilities, implementing latest technologies in the sector. Navantia, regarding the support to the vessels that we build, aims to perform a continuous support and to keep the units into the latest state-of-the-art capacities.