Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said the government had found an alternative source for procuring torpedos following the blacklisting of Italian company Finmeccanica SpA in the VVIP Chopper scam.
“Now since we have decided to blacklist Finmeccanica and group companies, immediately we can’t even think of this torpedo but we’ve alternative plans,” Parrikar told reporters at the Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders here.
“For purpose of secrecy, commercial importance of price, I will not inform you the alternative at this stage. Let the decision be taken by the government, then it will come (to you),” he said, and added that the country needs the torpedos at the earliest.
In Finmeccanica’s case, the price bid was not opened, and because of keeping the acquisition on hold the whole process had to be stopped, said Manohar Parrikar.
Earlier this week, the government withdrew a tender for purchasing 98 torpedos for Scorpene submarines which a subsidiary of the chopper scam-tainted Italian defence conglomerate Finmeccanica had won during the UPA regime.
The government action by default means that Finmeccanica will not be considered for the over Rs 1,200 crore deal for which a fresh tender is likely to be issued.
If the matter is not resolved fast, the Navy would be inducting the first Scorpene submarine without its main anti-ship attack system.
Black Shark torpedoes, made by Whitehead Alenia SistemiSubacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, had emerged the lowest bidder to arm the Scorpene submarines, the first of which will be handed over to the Navy by September.
Parrikar today said six of the Scorpene class Kalavari submarines are being made at the MDL, and the first of them is undergoing sea trials and will be ready for induction into the Navy in the last quarter of the year.
Sources had last week said the SeaHake torpedoes from Germany’s Atlas Elektronik and France’s F21 torpedoes are being considered which could eventually become a ‘Make in India’ programme as such torpedoes would be needed for other submarine projects which are in the offing.
According to sources, the Scorpene class submarines have already been customised to integrate its fire control system with the Black Sharks.
Integrating another type of torpedo will not only cost extra but also take more time, the sources claimed.
Six submarines are being built at the Mazagon Dock Ltd with technology from French firm DCNS under an over Rs 25,000 -crore project called P-75.