The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has issued a tender for the procurement of 100 heavyweight torpedoes for the Indian Navy’s new Scorpene-class (Kalvari-class) of diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs), according to local media reports.
“The tender for acquiring around 100 heavyweight torpedoes for the submarines for the Indian Navy was issued 10 days ago by the Defense Ministry,” MOD sources were quoted as saying on July 15 by The Economic Times.
The Indian Navy’s first domestically developed and built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), INS Arihant, and the first-of-class INS Kalvari currently do not carry any modern heavyweight torpedoes due to government red tape and and a corruption scandal that involved a foreign supplier.
Torpedoes are a sub’s main weapon system for attacking or defending against enemy attack submarines and surface combatants. According to a number of Indian media reports, the INS Kalvari is currently armed with an upgraded version of German-made AEG SUT 264 torpedoes as a stopgap measure. (The service’s four Shishumar-class SSKs also carry the SUT torpedo.)
The Indian Navy has to date not publicly commented on these reports. However, the INS Kalvari deployed during a military crisis between India and Pakistan in February and March of this year. It is highly unlikely that the SSK was dispatched to the Indian Ocean unarmed. The Navy has a remaining stockpile of around 60 SUT torpedoes.
The Indian MoD issued its latest request for information (RFI) at the end of 2017. The two heavyweight torpedoes under consideration are the German SeaHake and the French F21 Artemis heavyweight torpedoes. The MoD cancelled an order for 98 Black Shark torpedoes in 2017 following a corruption scandal. As I explained at the time:
India’s MoD] (…) canceled the order for Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes, built by torpedo maker Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland. According to the Indian MoD, Agusta Westland representatives allegedly paid bribes for a 2010 purchase of 12 AW medium lift helicopters, which resulted in the termination of the contract in 2014 and the purported blacklisting of the company.
Under the newly issued tender, the first batch of heavyweight torpedoes would be directly bought from a foreign vendor, while the bulk of the weapons would be procured under the MoD’s strategic partnership (SP) model within the framework of the Defense Procurement Procedure 2016.
Notably, the Indian Navy also placed an order for 73 domestically-produced Varunastra 533-millimeter heavyweight torpedoes in 2018 with delivery to be completed over the next four years.
Meanwhile, India has delivered a first batch of Shyena advanced lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar this month.