French Naval Group's F21 Heavy-Weight Torpedo

The first of six India’s homegrown Scorpene-class submarines, INS Kalvari was commissioned for the Indian Navy by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders, Mumbai today.

The six Scorpene submarines being constructed in the country with technology transfer from French firm DCNS under a Rs 23,562-crore (US $3.6 billion) program called Project 75.

The Scorpenes would be equipped with a new anaerobic propulsion system (AIP) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Six Scorpene submarines were ordered in 2005, and are being built at Mazagaon Docks (MDL) with technical assistance and transfer of technology as well as equipment from DCNS (now Naval Group).

The Scorpene submarine is one of the newer submarines of the Indian Navy, and has the capability of launching an anti-ship missile from below the surface of water which is expected to boost the navy. Sensitive data related to the Scorpene was leaked in the Australian media last year. A committee was set up to look into the matter.

Secret Procurement Plan

The defence ministry has issued a secret Request for Information (RFI) to global torpedo firms, for supplying over 100 heavyweight torpedoes for the Indian Navy’s Scorpene submarines, the first of which — INS Kalvari — was commissioned on Thursday the Business Standard reports.

Prospective vendors are unwilling to speak, since they have signed a non-disclosure agreement. However, three sources in the defence ministry and industry have verified this development.

As per the same report, while the torpedo RFI was issued in August, and replies received in November from at least three global “original equipment manufacturers” (OEMs), a long wait lies ahead before the new torpedoes become available to arm the Kalvari and five more submarines that will follow it into service. The defence ministry’s Defence Procurement Procedure of 2016 allows 114 weeks (two years and three months) for concluding a contract — in practice, an over-ambitious target. After the contract, manufacturing and delivery would take another 2-3 years..

The report further adds that, the navy’s new torpedo RFI went out to 5-6 torpedo OEMs but will boil down to a contest between French OEM Naval Group, which is offering its F-21 torpedo, and German firm Atlas Elektronik with its Seahake Mod 4. It is understood that Russian and Japanese OEMs, and Swedish company Saab were also sent RFIs. However, the Japanese did not respond; the Russian torpedo does not meet the Indian Navy’s specifications; nor does SAAB’s, which is driven by a combustion engine while the navy wants an electrically-driven torpedo.

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