Indian Navy goes “global” for 100 heavyweight torpedoes

By IDD Bureau

The Indian Navy is looking to buy 100 heavy weight submarine-launched torpedoes from global manufacturers despite the stated policy of the government to acquire weapons and equipment made in India. The ship-launched heavyweight torpedoes will made  sourced from indigenous manufacturers.

The Indian Navy is looking to buy 100 heavy weight submarine-launched torpedoes from global manufacturers despite the stated policy of the government to acquire weapons and equipment made in India. The ship-launched heavyweight torpedoes will be made sourced from indigenous manufacturers.

The torpedoes would be acquired under the ‘Buy Global’ category of the MoD’s Defence ProcurementProcedure 2016, meaning that all 100 torpedoes will be directly imported. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a “restricted” “Request for Proposal” (RFP) that is likely to cost NewDelhi an estimated INR20 billion (USD290 million). In the past, the Indian Navy made several attempts to procure heavy-weight torpedoes. Allegations of corruption, misdemeanour led to the cancellation of the tenders. The Indian Navy was, therefore, forced to make do with those in the armoury. 
The role of heavyweight torpedoes fired by surface ships and submarines are essentially the same – destroy platforms of the adversary while staying away from the reach of the opponent. Heavyweight torpedoes launched from underwater platforms are more complex. Heavyweight torpedoes are critical for maintaining the deterrence and “Sea-denial” capabilities of submarines.  
The addition of new submarines to the fleet has forced heavy to restart the process of acquisition, sources said. The torpedoes are to arm the six Kalvari (Scorpène)-class diesel-electric attack submarines that are being licence-built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai. Two of the six submarines – Kalvari and Khanderi – have joined the Indian Navy.  
The RFP was given to France’s Naval Group, Japan’s Mitsubishi, Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Russia’s Rosoboronexport, and Sweden’s Saab, sources said.


.The Saab offers the heavyweight Torpedo (HWT) as the main armament for submarines. The HWT used by the Royal Swedish Navy and is capable of destroying or disabling surface vessels and submarines. The Naval group (earlier DCNS) of France has the ‘F21’heavyweight torpedo it’s a dual-purpose torpedo that is effective against submarines and surface vessels. Naval Group is a foreign partner in the Scorpene submarine project. The F21 can be integrated into all types of submarines including nuclear-powered SSBNs and SSNs as well as diesel-electric types. Russia is offering ‘Shkval-E’. Like the French torpedo, it can also be launched from ships and submarines. The Japanese have what is called the Type 89 Torpedo that is made by Mitsubishi electric.  
The indigenously produced heavy-weight torpedo – Varunastra–as of now can be used by surface ships only. The submarine fired version of the Varunastra is still some way away. The Defence Public Sector Unit –Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) was recently assigned 170 million USD. The ship launched Varunastra is an electrically propelled and has automatic and remote-controlled guidance systems.


IDD Comment: the back and forth around the acquisition of the heavyweight torpedoes shows holds many lessons. First being the convoluted, length and fragile process of weapons acquiring in India. And, on a different plane, it is also a comment on how mature and India’s indigenous defence manufacturing sector is. “Make-in-India” in defence is a step in the right direction, but India still has a long way before reaching satisfactory levels

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