DRDO gets nod to make torpedoes for Indian submarines

DRDO gets nod to make torpedoes for Indian submarines

The DRDO has come up with indigenous torpedoes that could be used both in Russian-origin EKM and French Scorpene submarines, operated by the Indian Navy.

The Navy is looking at the possibility of inducting its first Scorpene submarine without the torpedoes. Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Visakhapatnam-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory has developed the torpedoes for the submarines to ensure a indigenous source of the weapons. The laboratory received a green signal from the Navy to go ahead with its plans for submarine-launched torpedoes.

“Our submarine torpedoes can be adapted to either (Russian or French) platform. We are waiting for the Navy to provide us with the boat for the trials,” NSTL director C Durga Malleswar told DH here after handing over an indigenous ship-launched torpedo, named ‘Varinastra’, to the Navy. However, it could take several years before the torpedo comes to operational use.

Absence of a torpedo — the main weapon of a submarine — for the Scorpene class boats has put the Defence Ministry on a last minute search for vendors who could quickly arm the six Scorpene class submarines that are to be commissioned in the next three years.

The void was created because of the Defence Ministry’s decision to cancel a deal with Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei’ ( WASS), which was to supply 98 torpedoes for these submarines.

This was done in response to the government’s decision to sever all ties with the Finmeccanica group in the wake of the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter scam. WASS is a Finmeccanica firm.

However, it left the Navy with no choice but to look for alternate torpedo manufacturers around the globe, months before the commissioning of the first boat, to be named INS Kalvari.

The government-to-government negotiations are on with a German and a French firm for delivering the weapons.

While the French company is willing to provide the F21 torpedos, it said it would do only for French submarines, which means in case a French firm does not make the cut in future submarine contracts with India, the government will have to once again look for a new option. An indigenous supply, an official said, could solve the problem.

‘Open doors to private sector’

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday asked the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to open its doors for the private sector besides aiding the defence production units to improve the quality of the final products, DHNS reports from New Delhi.

“DRDO should select private companies through a proper procedure to be development partners. This would not happen overnight, but DRDO would look into this,” Parrikar said here.

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