**Article from 2005**
India is paying more than $3.2 billion for six state-of-the-art French-designed Scorpene submarines.
And now, a year after it signs its contract, the Indian Navy can expect to receive its first Scorpene, and one submarine every year in a six-year production run.
But there is one important rider in the deal. The Indian subs will not be built at the facilities at Cherbourg in France. They will instead be built at the government-run Mazagaon docks in Mumbai.
It's a risky venture, since it's been 11 years since India built a submarine. And there are concerns that in-house technicians, mechanics and welders at Mazagaon, may have lost their highly technical skills in the absence of any orders from the government.
It's a risk the French defence consortium Armaris is well aware of.
Not only do they have to rely entirely on the manufacturing skills of Indian technicians, they must also guarantee that the performance of the Indian-built submarines, matches that of submarines built in France.
If it all works out, then the Indian Navy will have one of the most potent submarine fleets in the world.
The Scorpene incorporates the very latest Naval technology. At the heart of the submarine is the SUBTICS integrated combat system, a highly computerised central management system, which oversees all of the submarine's sensors and its weapons.
With a highly computerised system like SUBTICS in place, the number of officers and sailors on each submarine goes down drastically. Each Scorpene has a total complement of just 31.
The SUBTICS is in fact, a system, which is very similar to what has been installed on the Agosta 90 B submarine, another Armaris-designed submarine in service with Pakistan.
Pakistan, which has been using French-built submarines for decades, has selected the French-built Agosta to be the first submarine type it has constructed at home.
But any talk of similarities between the two subs is quickly dismissed.
Despite the breakthrough in the Scorpene deal after negotiations lasting several years, the Indian Navy remains entirely silent, and has refused to comment on the deal with France.
"Navies don't talk about their submarines," has been a standard line for years. But the fact remains that the Indian Navy has invested heavily in submarine technology for its future.
Submarines are, in fact, the ultimate stealth weapons.
Despite advances in sonar technology over the decades, detecting, tracking and targeting submarines remains extremely difficult, particularly in the Indian Ocean where the salinity of the seas and the presence of thermals zones of variable water temperature, make submarine detection extremely difficult.
Submarines like the Scorpene make this game of detection and counter-detection even tougher.
Designed to be extremely silent, the Scorpene can loiter under water for days, scouring the seas through long-range passive sonar signals, which detect the presence of other submarines and warships in the vicinity.
However, the workhorse of the fleet is the Russian-built Kilo class submarine. Several generations behind the Scorpene in terms of its sonar and detection capabilities, the Kilo has nonetheless been recently upgraded.
It can now fire long-range anti-ship cruise missiles, making it a formidable platform.
It is these submarines, which are attracting a lot of interest. Sources say that a deal to acquire two Russian-built Akula nuclear powered submarines is almost through.
With an almost unlimited supply of power, nuclear submarines like the Akula, can remain on patrol almost indefinitely, transforming the Indian Navy from a regional to a global player.
And now, this deal for six Scorpene submarines is one, which gives the Navy's underwater arm the much needed teeth.