March 11, 2013
The bribery scandal surrounding India’s purchase of AW101 VVIP helicopters from Finmeccanica subsidiary AgustaWestland seems to have cast a shadow on the purchase of Black Shark torpedoes for the Indian navy from Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei (WASS), another company owned by the Italian defense conglomerate.
Though the Indian government says the procurement has proceeded “in a transparent and fair manner,” Defense Minister A.K. Antony says, “The contract for procurement of Black Shark torpedoes has not yet been finalized.”
Finmeccanica group’s WASS and German company Atlas Electroniks were vying for the deal. The latter had challenged the Indian government’s decision to select WASS’s Black Shark torpedo in 2010. An internal committee of the Defense Ministry conducted a thorough probe after alleged reports of irregularities in the procurement process emerged.
“[A] Special Technical Oversight Committee [STOC] was constituted with [the] approval of Defense Acquisition Council to review the evaluation process and complaints received,” Antony says. “The STOC has opined that the procurement has ... progressed in accordance with the laid-down procedures, in keeping with the provisions of the Request for Proposal and [Defense Procurement Policy-06] in a transparent and fair manner. The DAC has considered the STOC Report and accepted the same in September 2012. [The] government has not taken a final decision on the procurement.”
Black Shark torpedoes are designed to be launched from submarines or surface vessels, and have a range of 50 km. They are intended for the navy’s six Scorpene submarines and for the six conventional submarines that will be built under India’s Project 75I. The torpedoes will also be used aboard India’s six-strong ballistic nuclear missile submarine fleet.
AW101 photo: AgustaWestland