Hope for a billion-order
Germany and India approach submarine deal
06/07/2023, 2:17 p.m
So far, India has been dependent on Russia for arms supplies. But the government of the South Asian country wants to change that. Federal Defense Minister Pistorius now wants to secure a major order for Thyssenkrupp in India.
Germany and India are close to finalizing an agreement to build diesel submarines in the South Asian country. This is reported by the financial news agency “Bloomberg”, citing people familiar with the matter. Accordingly, the marine division of Thyssenkrupp and the Indian shipyard Mazagon, which specializes in warships, are joining forces to land a major order together. This involves the construction of six submarines for the Indian Navy at an estimated cost of 5.2 billion dollars.
So far, the main supplier of armaments to India has been Russia. But faced with the invasion of Ukraine, India’s government is looking for alternatives. India currently has one nuclear submarine and 16 conventional submarines. However, the major order could well go to France. Naval Group SA, in which the government in Paris is the main shareholder, is still in the running.
Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius wants to treat the country as a strategic partner along the lines of Australia and Japan, thereby significantly facilitating armaments cooperation. “India is an important, not to say the most important, strategic partner for Europe and also for Germany. And that’s why we have to treat him as such,” said the SPD politician in New Delhi after talks with his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh. There will also be a joint exercise with the German Navy in the coming year.
For Japan and Australia, simplified rules apply to armaments deals, since they do not belong to the group of so-called third countries, but are on an equal footing with NATO partners. You can buy from German armaments companies without a complex approval process, but the federal government can still object.
“Could become a flagship project”
Pistorius did not formulate his proposal specifically, but treating India differently was a “relatively logical next step”. This discussion must be had. If Germany takes its strategic partnership seriously, “it also needs reliable cooperation in the area of armaments and military cooperation with strategically reliable partners – and that includes India,” said Pistorius. He made it clear that negotiations for a multi-billion dollar armaments deal involving the delivery of six German-manufactured TKMS submarines to India are progressing. He said: “It could become a flagship project.”
Pistorius said he also spoke to his counterpart about Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which is having repercussions as far afield as India and every corner of the world. “And India is trying very hard to significantly and quickly reduce its dependency on Russia for armaments, which is currently still at 60 percent,” said the defense minister. The important trading partner Germany is of particular importance.
The US has already upgraded India to a key partner. The country belongs to the security and military-political oriented quad alliance (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) together with the USA, Australia and Japan – all democratic states that, according to their own statements, are committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific. Between the lines it is about China’s increasing striving for power. The group of four was formed after the 2004 tsunami triggered by an earthquake in the Indian Ocean. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was in New Delhi on Sunday and Monday.
The most populous country, India, has one of the largest armies in the world with around 1.4 billion inhabitants. The military is important for India, partly because of very strained relations with neighboring countries China and Pakistan, with whom India has already fought wars. All three countries have nuclear capacity.