INS Sindhurakshak in Visakhapatnam
The Indian Navy's Sindhurakshak submarine is seen in Visakhapatnam February 13, 2006. The Adani Group has entered the fray for the mega submarines project under the strategic partnership model with a last-minute bid.REUTERS/Kamal Kishore

The Adani Group has entered the fray for the Rs 45,000-crore submarines project of the Indian Navy by submitting a bid in the last minute. The competition for the project to build six submarines, one of the biggest under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Make India initiative, has a strong field led by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders, reports say. The other major contenders are Larson & Toubro (L&T), Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) and Reliance Naval and Engineering Ltd.

While all others own shipyards, the Adani Group may probably enter a tie-up with HSL, though the latter has submitted an independent bid, a report in the Economic Times said. The Gujarat-based conglomerate could float a special purpose vehicle (SPV) with HSL, the report said, quoting unidentified sources.

The Adani Group is now a contender for all three mega defence acquisition plans under the government's strategic partnership model – future fighter jet, naval helicopter and submarine, the report says.

The Indian shipyard chosen will manufacture six conventional submarines in collaboration with a foreign partner to be picked by the government. The defence authorities are expected to shortlist the contenders in the next two months. The foreign partners, who will be from Russia, France, Germany, Spain or Sweden, will be selected by a parallel process by the end of the year.

Adani group ties up with Elbit Systems
Ground crew walks next to the Israeli Elbit Systems Ltd Hermes 900 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during a presentation at the airbase in the central Swiss town of Emmen on October 16, 2012. The Adani group has tied up with Elbit for developing UAVs in India.Reuters

The report says that the MDL is considered the strongest contender for the single biggest shipbuilding plan under the strategic partnership model, given its experience in building the Shishumar class of submarines as well as the current production line for the Kalvari (Scorpene) class of boats.

The Adani Group has strengthened its claim with the acquisition of the Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd that has tie-ups with big Russian and Israeli companies. The group is already involved in the specialised defence and space business with its product list ranging from drones to helicopters and simulators. It is also one of the major suppliers for the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme.

The Modi government has unveiled the strategic partnership programme to involve the private sector in a big way in defence projects under the Make in India umbrella. The programme is expected to drive a $130-billion mega plan for military modernisation that is expected to make the country capable of tackling simultaneous strategic threats from Pakistan on the western border and China on the northern and eastern borders, reports say.