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French defence giant Naval Group has entered the fray for a major Indian Navy contract, offering its M940 Oostende mine countermeasures vessel (MCMV) in partnership with an undisclosed Indian shipyard. This move comes in response to a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the Indian Navy last year to bolster its mine-warfare capabilities with the acquisition of 12 MCMVs built in Indian shipyards.

The Indian Navy’s latest attempt to procure MCMVs follows at least three previous unsuccessful endeavours. This renewed push underscores the critical need to modernize the Navy’s mine-countermeasure fleet to effectively safeguard India’s vast coastline.

Naval Group’s proposal leverages Indian shipbuilding capabilities while providing access to advanced technology. While the specific Indian shipyard partnering with Naval Group remains unannounced, several leading contenders like Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL), L&T Shipbuilding, and Mazagon Dock Limited have responded to the RFI.

The M940 Oostende boasts a comprehensive suite of features designed for modern mine countermeasure operations:

  • Drone Integration: These vessels are the first of their kind to integrate a combination of surface drones, underwater drones, and aerial drones for mine detection, classification, and neutralization. This allows for a largely autonomous mine-warfare approach, minimizing risk to personnel.
  • Enhanced Survivability: The M940 Oostende can withstand underwater explosions and boasts very low acoustic, electrical, and magnetic signatures, making them difficult for mines to detect.
  • Key Specifications:
    • Length: 82.6 meters
    • Width: 17 meters
    • Displacement: 2,800 tons
    • Maximum Speed: 15.3 knots
    • Range: Over 3,500 nautical miles
    • Crew: 63 (base crew: 33)
  • Advanced Combat Systems: The Naval Group Polaris combat system is central to the M940’s operations. It integrates with a range of mine countermeasure equipment, including:
    • Exail UMISOFT System
    • 2 Exail Inspector 125 unmanned surface vehicles
    • 3 A-18 autonomous underwater vehicles with Exail UMISAS 120 sonar
    • 2 T-18 towed sonars with Exail UMISAS 240 sonar
    • 2 Exail Seascan and K-Ster C Mine Identification & Disposal Systems (MIDS)
    • 1 Skeldar’s V200 unmanned aerial vehicle (UMS)
    • 1 Exail influence mine sweeping system with 5 CTM magnetic modules and 1 PATRIA acoustic module

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