NEW DELHI – Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar has expressed his readiness to consider acquiring Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines used by the Maritime Self-Defense Force.
“We are very much interested in Japan’s technologies,” Parrikar said in an exclusive interview ahead of his visit to Japan from Monday.
The issue may be taken up at his meeting with Defense Minister Gen Nakatani the same day, according to Parrikar. “Everything is on agenda. We can discuss that issue,” he said Saturday.
India’s navy has a fleet of 15 submarines, but more than half are not equipped to respond quickly to contingencies due to aging. In view of the growing activity of Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi has put a high priority on arms buildup to strengthen maritime security.
Japan’s Soryu-class submarines are seen as among the most advanced nonnuclear attack submarines in the world.
Parrikar noted that Japan had strict regulations on the export of defense technologies but that the rules are changing. “We are looking at all kinds of defense cooperation with Japan in all fields,” he said, signaling intention to acquire Soryu-class submarines if the amended conditions are met.
Australia is also in talks with Japan on buying Soryu-class submarines.
In the interview, Parrikar suggested that India is not likely to make a decision anytime soon on whether to purchase US-2 amphibious rescue aircraft used by the MSDF. Tokyo and New Delhi are holding talks on the export of US-2 aircraft to India and a possible joint venture to produce them on Indian soil.
“It will not be decided in Tokyo,” Parrikar said. “I have directed the (Indian) Navy and Coast Guard to come up with a clear-cut report on their operational necessities. First we need to define details.
“Without that report, we cannot go forward,” he said.