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INS Khanderi tastes water, but sans torpedoes

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on January 12, 2017

Nation's pride Indigenously built Scorpene-class submarine INS Khanderi launched at Mazegaon Shipbuilding dock in Mumbai on Thursday   -  Prashant Nakwe

The Navy launched yet another submarine with much fanfare on Thursday but it was bereft of the most crucial element, the torpedo.

INS Khanderi, named after the island fort of the Marathas, was launched at the Mazagon Dock Shipyard Ltd. This is the second of the Navy’s six Scorpene-class stealth submarines built under the $3-billion Project-75 programme with technology transfer from French DCNS. The first one — INS Kalvari — was launched in October 2015 and is now undergoing sea trials, also without torpedoes.

“Yes, there is a problem with the torpedoes. It will be fitted when needed. Once the blacklisting issue is solved the torpedoes will be fitted,” a top Defence Ministry official told BusinessLine.

When the Defence Ministry announced the P-75 submarine programme in 2005, a parallel deal on buying torpedoes for these submarines was finalised with WASS, a subsidiary of Italian defence giant Finmeccanica. The plan was to procure 100 Black Shark Torpedoes. Finmeccanica was selected after a tough bidding process based on its success during the technical trials, competitive pricing and compatibility with the submarines.

Eventually, the deal was axed owing to the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam and subsequent blacklisting of Finmeccanica by the Defence Ministry.

The Centre is now mulling the option of procuring the torpedoes from Germany’s Keil, a unit of ThyssenKrup, which produces SeaHake torpedoes in collaboration with EADS.

The Ministry is also talking with American and Israeli firms for this. Additionally, it is considering the F-21 Heavyweight Torpedo from DCNS that can strike enemy submarines as well as surface vessels, according to sources.

The selection of the new torpedoes will take another five to six years, the sources said.

Long delays

The P-75 programme is already facing a delay by almost eight years. The first submarine was expected to be rolled out in 2012 end.

“We expect delivery of all the submarines by 2020…Despite facing numerous challenges, particularly delays due to material issues, MDL has successfully overcome all these challenges with typical determination and innovativeness of the work force,” Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said while launching the submarine in Mumbai.

INS Kalvari and INS Khanderi are expected to be commissioned by June and December, respectively.

Published on January 12, 2017
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