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June 10, 2013

Navy's ongoing hunt for heavy torpedoes leads to delay in modernisation process

A fresh hunt for heavy torpedoes for its new line of warships and a setback in the delivery of new destroyers has the Indian navy reeling under pressure of delay in major modernisation programmes.

The process to acquire new torpedoes was set rolling recently after the first attempt to purchase the weapon got embroiled in controversies.

With Finmeccanica's conduct in the VVIP helicopter deal for the Indian Air Force coming under scanner, questions have been raised on the company's participation in other contracts though no punitive action has been taken against it by the government so far.

Acquisition

The acquisition of torpedoes was held back because the front runner, Black Shark torpedo, was being made by a Finmeccanica subsidiary called WASS.

Even though the ongoing $300 million project to procure 98 torpedoes has not been cancelled officially, the navy has issued Request for Information (RFI), re-launching the process to procure the weapons. An evaluation committee had given an "all clear", but despite that the project had not moved further.

The German rival Atlas Elektronik had also raised questions about Black Shark's selection.

Sources said a fresh process of induction was initiated so that the torpedoes could be made available for all the warships and submarines in the pipeline - including Project 75 (Scorpene), 15A (Kolkata class destroyers), 15B (follow on of Kolkata class destroyers).

At the moment, navy warships are equipped with old Russian heavy torpedoes. The new torpedoes were also to be integrated with the French Scorpene submarines under construction.

Even as the torpedo issue was being sorted out, the navy was hit by the delay in project 15A for the construction of three Kolkata class destroyers

The first ship of the class, being constructed at Muzgaon Dock Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, was scheduled to be delivered in July. But technical problems were detected during the sea trials of the destroyers - the largest warships to be constructed and designed at MDL.

It is estimated that the project has been delayed by at least six months as the new destroyer would now be made available only by early 2014.

Project 15A, under which three destroyers have to be built, is already running two years behind schedule. The revised deadline for the delivery of first ship was mid-2013. The project was going on track keeping up with the revised deadline but the snag was detected during the sea trials of the ship.


India Today

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