NEW DELHI --- Months after India's French-origin Scorpene-class submarine started operating without primary underwater weapons systems, the Indian Navy has finally launched a tender worth over $300 million to arm its diesel-electric submarines.
One in six Scorpene-class submarines has been operating for the last two years without heavyweight torpedoes - the primary underwater weapons systems - for attacking and defending against enemy attacks by submarines and surface warships.
"The tender for acquiring around 100 heavyweight torpedoes for Indian Navy submarines was issued 10 days ago by the Defence Ministry," Indian news agency ANI quoted Defence Ministry sources as saying.
Construction of the five remaining Scorpene-class submarines - which are capable of carrying and launching 18 heavyweight torpedoes from the sea - is underway at the Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) shipyard in Mumbai. The Indian Navy has contacted Rosoboronexport of Russia, French Naval Group, German ThyssenKrupp, and Swedish SAAB to bid on supplying 108 heavyweight torpedoes.
The official said that the navy wanted a limited number of heavyweight torpedoes as an immediate requirement, while the long-term bulk requirement would be fulfilled through the 'Make in India' route. The Indian navy signed $170 million in contracts for over 70 heavyweight torpedoes, believed to be for warships, developed by state-funded Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Project 75, under which Scorpene-class submarines are being built with the help of French firm Naval Group (DCNS), had originally envisaged equipping the submarines with Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes as their primary weapons.
However, in June 2016, the Indian government cancelled the $200million deal with Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of the Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland.