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Italian firm Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, is once again making a compelling pitch for the sale of the Black Shark torpedo, an advanced, long-range, multi-purpose, heavy-weight torpedo. This torpedo is designed to be equipped on the Indian Kalvari class of submarines, marking a significant development following the lifting of sanctions on its parent company.

Initially, the six Kalvari-class submarines were intended to be equipped with the Black Shark, representing a next-generation, fully stealthy heavyweight torpedo. It boasted the capability to be fired from deep and coastal waters, and it could be launched in both push-out and swim-out modes at any operational depth of a submarine. However, due to sanctions imposed on its parent firm, alternative Russian and Indian torpedoes were used on the fleet that has now been lifted by India.

In response to this change, India has been working on the development of Varunastra, another heavyweight torpedo. This indigenous torpedo can be launched from surface ships and has recently seen efforts to create a submarine-launched variant with upgraded features. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has placed the procurement of heavyweight torpedoes from abroad in the 5th Positive Indigenization list, which is set to become effective from December 2026. Following this, the Indian Navy will need to transition to fully rely on domestically manufactured heavyweight torpedoes.

The pitch from Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) for the Black Shark torpedo offers an opportunity for the Indian Navy to consider advanced, internationally sourced torpedo technology for its Kalvari-class submarines. As the deadline for full indigenization approaches, it will be interesting to see how the Indian Navy chooses to address its torpedo requirements.

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