NEW DELHI — Plans to procure Black Shark torpedoes for the Indian Navy from WASS, a subsidiary of Leonardo-Finmeccanica, was cancelled last week, a Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed with Defense News.

The decision comes in the wake of corruption charges involving another subsidiary of Italy's Leonardo-Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland, and the Indian National Congress political party.

"A decision has been taken last week and [a] cancellation process is underway and alternatives are being worked out," MoD spokesman Nitin Wakankar said.

The Navy sought Black Shark torpedoes to mount them on the six Scorpene submarines when they begin induction this year.

After cancelling the helicopter contract with AgustaWestland in January 2014, the new government, after coming to power in May 2014, issued a partial ban against Leonardo-Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries. Ongoing contracts continued, while fresh deals were banned. And though WASS had won over maritime security company Atlas Elektronik of Germany, the torpedo deal was never officially signed.

Though the more than $200 million tender for the purchase of 98 Black Shark torpedoes is now cancelled, there has been no decision on an alternative.

No MoD official would say how the Indian Navy will procure the much needed torpedoes. According to defense analyst Nitin Mehta, the Navy likely will struggle to quickly recover from the cancellation.

WASS already have a tie up with Pipavav Defence but no production facilities have yet been established.

Following the conviction in an Italian court of some former executives of Leonardo-Finmeccanica in alleged corruption scandal involving the VVIP helicopter, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned the heat on the Congress party by indicating that bribe money was paid to top politicians, bureaucrats and former Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi.

Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that the Italian company will be blacklisted in India in the wake of allegations it offered bribes to win a €560 million Indian Air Force helicopter contract in 2010.

However, an Indian Navy official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that would not be in the country's best interests, as Leonardo-Finmeccanica is involved in some key defense programs.


Tom Kington contributed to this report.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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