The Indian Navy is slated to commission the stealthiest diesel-electric attack submarine, the INS Kalvari, this month, currently undergoing the final stages of sea trials. Marking a significant milestone, the commissioning of the Scorpene submarine will, however, be sans its earlier primary weapon system, the Black Shark torpedoes.
The torpedoes were to be mounted on the six Scorpene submarines produced at Mazagon Dock Ltd.Last June, the Defence Ministry had deferred a $200-million deal for the Black Shark heavyweight torpedos, built by Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland.
“Though WASS bagged the global tender in 2014 to supply the torpedoes over Atlas Elektronik of Germany, the probe into the VVIP helicopters scam relating to AgustaWestland led to the government putting a ban on signing any fresh contract with the company,” said an industry source, with knowledge of the deal.
Though the German made SeaHake heavyweight torpedo and France’s F21 Artemis were pointed out as alternatives to the Black Shark torpedo, “there has been no contract with either parties for the supply of the torpedo,” the source pointed out, adding that the main armament of submarines are their missiles and torpedoes which are launched stealthily from underwater for land and surface targets.
Incidentally, INS Kalvari has undergone prolonged weapons trials this year, including the test firing of “a German SeaHake torpedo and the launch of a French-made Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile”.