With an indigenous lightweight torpedo delayed, India will produce under license a design by Italian firm Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subaqua (WASS), according to an Indian Navy official.
Under a contract signed in April, WASS will build a few dozen torpedoes to meet the pressing need to arm India’s frigates, destroyers and submarines, but within 15 to 20 months, production will start up in the Hyderabad facility of India’s state-owned missile producer Bharat Dynamics Ltd. (BDL), the official said. The Navy intends to buy about 900 lightweight torpedoes, he said.
The Indian-built torpedoes also will be sold by WASS to European customers, a senior BDL official said.
Finmeccanica officials also are talking with WASS and BDL about developing and marketing a more advanced torpedo for export, a Finmeccanica executive said here.
An 18-year effort by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop and build 990 lightweight torpedoes to replace India’s own aging arms has failed to come to fruition, an Indian Defence Ministry official said.
DRDO had proposed to begin production around 1995, but “technology denial by foreign suppliers” prevented that, a DRDO official said.
The Indian Navy official said the DRDO’s torpedo was rejected after a series of trials.
The Navy is using about 250 obsolete Russian and Western torpedoes intended for retirement in 1999.