BERLIN -- German and Indian companies signed an agreement Wednesday that envisions the possible building of six military submarines for India.
The memorandum of understanding was signed in the presence of German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who was in India on a visit.
The agreement calls for Germany's Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems to engineer and design six non-nuclear submarines that would be built and delivered by India's Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders with “significant local content.”
The German company did not give a financial value for the proposed deal, which was inked during a ceremony in Mumbai. But it said the agreement lays the foundation for possible cooperation with Mazagon to compete in an Indian navy tender.
Pistorius called it “an important signal, one could say a milestone, for a flagship project in a key technology.”
The ceremony came at the end of the a several-country Asian trip by the German minister, who called for deepening strategic ties with the region. He met his Indian counterpart in New Delhi on Tuesday, and said he advocated the potential deal during that meeting.
India has been a major buyer of arms from Russia. Pistorius, the first German defense minister to visit the country since 2015, advocates easing defense cooperation and weapons deals with India by treating it as a strategic partner like Australia or Japan.
He pointed Wednesday to the importance of cooperating with partners that are like-minded in advocating a rules-based order and the security of sea routes.
“With India, we have a democracy — with its weaknesses, one doesn't need to hide that, but a strong democracy, a stable country in the region, just as we do with Indonesia,” Pistorius told reporters.
“Both are partners with which we ... should cooperate closely, which we should trust, and whose trust we rely on,” he added.
Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems said it delivered four submarines to the Indian navy in the 1980s in cooperation with Mazagon and that the vessels are still in service today.
“We are ready when India calls,” the company’s CEO, Oliver Burkhard, said.