NEW DELHI — Finmeccanica subsidiary WASS is set to win a $300 million tender to supply advanced Black Shark torpedoes for Indian submarines, Indian Defence Ministry sources said.
Allegations by Atlas Elektronik of Germany that the contest had been rigged to favor WASS have been rejected after careful study, ministry sources said, and the procurement is ready for the final phase of contract negotiations.
Atlas had charged that the procurement process was not transparent, and that some aspects of the user requirements, especially pertaining to integrating the interface of the torpedo with the Scorpene submarine, were tailor-made for WASS, a ministry source said. The Italian company has a collaboration with DCNS, which builds the Scorpenes.
WASS officials declined to comment.
“The whole thing is no longer an issue for us,” said Jens Krüger, Atlas Elektronik spokesman. “We see ourselves as a partner of the Indian Navy and the Indian authorities, and therefore we have founded the subsidiary Atlas Elektronik India this March. Full of confidence, we believe in a close and good cooperation with India.”
Following Altas Elektronik’s challenge of the 2010 torpedo award to WASS, a committee was established to look into the matter. Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, in a written response to Parliament on March 11, said procurement of the Black Shark torpedoes was proceeding according to the established procurement process.
“Representations/references have been received from different quarters including from one competing vendor and members of Parliament,” Antony wrote. “Special Technical Oversight Committee [STOC] was constituted with approval of DAC [Defence Acquisition Council] to review the evaluation process and complaints received. The STOC has opined that the procurement has been progressed in accordance with the laid down procedures, in keeping with the provisions of the RfP [request for proposal] and Defence Procurement Procedure [DPP-06] in a transparent and fair manner.”
An Indian Defence Ministry official said the recent scandal involving the helicopter VVIP program with Finmeccanica unit AgustaWestland did not influence the decision with WASS.
Ukrainexport from Ukraine and Rosoboron-export of Russia also competed, but were eliminated earlier in a technical evaluation.
The potential order for torpedoes for the Scorpene submarines could grow with additional torpedo requirements for the proposed purchase of six submarines by the Indian Navy.
The torpedoes will be the primary weapon on the Scorpene subs and will be used against surface targets and submarines. If selected, the Black Shark torpedoes will be produced under license at state-owned Bharat Dynamics, with technology transfer expected to allow maintenance and overhaul of the torpedoes.
A total of 98 torpedoes are to be procured; the seller would provide 20 torpedoes and the remaining 78 would be license-produced.
Albrecht Müller contributed to this report from Bonn.