Cancellation of the Black Shark torpedo deal has had a crippling impact on Indian Navy’s plan of lending teeth to its fleet of six under-construction submarines, two of which are ready to be inducted any time soon.
The Indian Navy is looking to purchase heavyweight torpedoes to be mounted on the Scorpene class submarines, production of which is currently underway at the Mazagon dock shipyard.
The Navy has reportedly contacted a number of global firms for a deal under the Strategic Partnership route that envisages that an Indian private company will tie up with a foreign manufacturer willing to transfer technology. In return, the government will assure orders and allow exports as well.Project75, under which the six Scorpene class submarines are being built with the help of French firm DCNS, originally envisaged equipping the submarines with Black Shark heavyweight torpedo as their primary weapons. However, in June last year, the Indian government cancelled a $200 million deal with Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland.
The INS Kalavvari, to be inducted in the Indian Navy by end of August has successfully undergone a series of weapons trials including the test firing of a German SeaHake torpedo and the launch of a French-made Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile, already in use by the Indian forces.. The second Scorpene class submarine christened INS-Khanderi is also on the final stages of sea trial and is expected to be formally inducted in the Indian Navy by the end of this year.
According to sources, the Indian Navy needs at least 24 submarines to maintain a minimum force level but it has only about 15 subs. Of the 15, half of them are used in a restricted manner or not at optimum level and are kept as war reserves. The Indian Navy expects the Scorpene class submarines, which operate very silently and are capable of multifarious roles, to add teeth to the might of the Indian Navy by strengthening its crucial Submarine Arm.