The Indian government has delivered a first batch of indigenously built torpedoes that were on order to the Myanmar navy. Advanced Light Torpedo Shyena (TAL) units were delivered last week, on July 12.
As The Diplomat reported previously, the deal between Nay Pyi Taw and New Delhi was clinched in March 2017. The contract value was then estimated at $37.9 million and marked a major moment in the defense relationship between the two countries.
The Indian government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made relations with Myanmar a priority under the ‘Act East’ policy, which emphasized outreach to Southeast Asian and East Asian countries. India and Myanmar collaborate on a range of security and defense related issues.
The Indian Navy has provided technical support, training, and capacity-building assistance to the Myanmar Navy. China, however, has long outpaced India as Myanmar’s main defense partner. Russia and former Soviet states follow as a close second.
The TAL Shyena is India’s first indigenous lightweight torpedo design, designed for use against submarines. The Shyena was co-developed by India’s Naval Science and Technology Laboratory and the Defense Research and Development Organization. The Myanmar navy will be the first non-India navy to operate the Shyena.
The Shyena is reportedly based on the performance specifications of the Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS)/Leonardo A244/S, which has been used by the Indian Navy. In development since the 1990s, the torpedo was inducted by the Indian Navy in 2012. The Shyena can be launched from surface warfare vessels.
Separately, India has been developing heavyweight anti-submarine torpedos, including the Varunastra, which has been offered to Vietnam, another important Southeast Asian partner for New Delhi. The Varunastra exists in submarine-launched and ship-launched variants, with the former yet to see testing.
The Myanmar Navy has seen expansion in recent years and is the second largest military branch in the country after the Army, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ Military Balance data.
The Navy operates five frigates as its primary surface combatant ships and has a much larger fleet of patrol ships and offshore combatant vessels.