INDIA ISSUES RFI FOR HEAVYWEIGHT TORPEDOES

The Indian Navy (IN) has sent a request for information (RfI) to selected overseas manufacturers asking for details about 150 heavyweight torpedoes at a cost of $300 million. According to the Financial Express, the RfI has been sent to French company Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS), German ThyssenKrupp (which owns Atlas Elektronik), Swedish SAAB, Rosoboronexport (Russia) and a Japanese company which is actually Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

Curiously, this request for information (RfI) follows a very recent RfI about locally building six diesel-electric submarines under Project 75 India (P-75I) programme. It remains unclear if India has definitely put an end to the acquisition of Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes from Leonardo (former WASS) that should have equipped the six Scorpene class submarines being built at Mazagon Docks Ltd.

INS Kalvari, the first Scorpene class stealth submarine built under Project 75 carries on extensive sea trials and will use refurbished SUT heavyweight torpedoes (from Atlas Elektronik) until further decision is taken concerning the first batch of 98 torpedoes (20 torpedoes to be made by the manufacturer and 78 by Bharat Dynamics in Hyderabad). The same torpedo should have also equipped for a second batch of 49 HWT the last 3 nuclear submarines SSBN Arihant being built at Larsen and Toubro (L&T).

Even though, the last RfI refers to 150 heavyweight torpedoes (similar to the 98+49), OIDA Strategic Intelligence understands it solely concerns Project 75 India (P-75I) for submarines with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems and anti-surface, anti-submarine and land-attack capabilities. We should remind that according the Indian press, the mid-July RfI related to the long-delayed Project 75 India (P-75I) programme was despatched to :

  • Naval Group (France), manufacturer of the F21 heavyweight torpedo;
  • ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (Germany), new full owner of Atlas Elektronik, manufacturer of the SeaHake Mod 4 heavyweight torpedo (export version of the DM2A4);
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (Japan), the last being the manufacturer of the Type-89 (G-RX2) and G-RX6 heavyweight torpedoes;
  • Saab (Sweden), manufacturer of the Tp-62 heavyweight torpedo;
  • Rosoboronexport (Russia) which sells the TEST-71ME-NK heavyweight torpedo from JSC CSUW Gidropribor;
  • Navantia (Spain).

It is highly impropable that the Indian Navy will get torpedoes either from Saab or from the Russian or the Japanese for its six Scorpene class submarines (Project 75). Firstly, because the Indian Navy has an urgent operational necessity due to the future commissioning of the INS Kalvari and the INS Khanderi (the first two submarines). And then because it will cost several millions of dollars to modify the submarines to fire these torpedoes.

All is possible for Italian torpedo maker Leonardo. Because the MoD believes Leonardo Helicopters (at the time Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland) paid bribes for the 2010 purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters all projects related to the Italian company have been cancelled or put on hold. However, as published DefenseNews in late June “the attorney general has advised the MoD that the contract with WASS should not be cancelled” and since 2016 the Indian government returned to following a nuanced approach towards subsidiaries of tainted firms (with a ban of 5 years instead of 10 years). Finally, Leonardo still faces intense competition for that contract from Atlas Elektronik and Naval Group.

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