Amid India-Pakistan tension, Navy strengthens its submarine fleet

Amid the ongoing tension between the armies of India and Pakistan, the Indian Navy is “fast-tracking” steps to meet its requirements for torpedoes for its submarine fleet, including the German HDW and under-construction Scorpene boats.

Along with it, the Navy has also finalised the requirement of 176 torpedoes to be fitted on the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant and the six Scorpene submarines which would join the Navy in 4-5 years.

The steps are being taken since the government wants the Navy to be prepared for any eventuality as tension between India and Pakistan has been escalating ever since Pakistan-backed terrorists attacked and killed 19 soldiers in Uri on September 18, Navy sources said here.

The Navy has a limited number of torpedoes for the German-manufactured HDW Type 209 submarines, while the INS Kalvari – the first of the Scorpene Class boats – would be without any torpedo as the tender for buying Blackshark torpedoes from Italy was retracted due to alleged wrongdoings in the procurement process.

“The Navy through its official channel has contacted the German government and requested it to fast-track the upgradation of 64 SUT torpedoes which is already contracted for,” Navy sources told Mail Today.

The remaining inventory of 24 SUT torpedoes would also be upgraded now as part of the request made by the Indian Navy to Germany, the sources added.

India has procured 98 SUT torpedoes from Germany in the 1990s for its HDW submarines. Of these, 64 were found to be in a better condition and were thus cleared for upgradation a couple of years back.

“Under the present circumstances, it was decided that the entire arsenal available with us should be kept ready,” the sources said.

Sources said that in view of delay in the procurement of new torpedoes for the submarines, the Scorpene submarines can be modified to fire the SUT torpedoes till the time the new ones come in.

All procurements in this regard would be done by the Navy in a fast-track mode as the government has empowered the vicechiefs of the three services to make procurements worth Rs2,000 crore to buy spares and ammunition for existing platforms.

The Navy is also in talks with Russian manufacturers for immediate supply of spares and ammunition for its warships and weapon systems. Russia has several warships for immediate upgradation and maintenance.

On the other hand, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday cleared the acquisition of 12 Dornier surveillance aircraft for keeping an eye on the vast maritime borders of the country.

The aircraft worth Rs2,500 crore would be built by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at its Kanpur facility, sources told Mail Today. For covering a vast maritime area extending from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to the Arabian Sea, the Navy has recently procured 12 P-8I long-range surveillance aircraft from the US.

The Dorniers would supplement the long-rangers and are used for short- and medium-range patrolling of the seas.

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