India Cancels Minesweeper Program

NEW DELHI --- In yet another major blow to the 'Make in India' plan+ in the defence sector, the government has cancelled the Rs 32,000 crore project to construct 12 advanced minesweepers in collaboration with South Korea at the Goa Shipyard.

Advanced minesweepers or mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) are around 900-tonne specialised warships that detect, track and destroy underwater mines laid by enemy forces to choke harbours and offshore installations, disrupt shipping and maritime trade.

The Navy, which began this acquisition case way back in July 2005, needs 24 MCMVs to guard the east and west coasts but is making do with only four 30-year-old minesweepers at present.

This "big operational capability gap" is all the more alarming because Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines, which can quietly lay mines, are regularly making forays into the Indian Ocean now.

Top sources say the government has directed the Goa Shipyard to start the entire process afresh for the already long-delayed MCMV project, which was strongly pushed by Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar when he was the defence minister, after scrapping the protracted commercial negotiations with South Korean shipyard Kangnam. "Goa Shipyard has been asked to issue a new global expression of interest (EoI) for the MCMVs. The fresh RFP (request for proposal) or tender will follow thereafter.

Final negotiations with Kangnam were stuck for long because it wanted deviations from the original RFP. There were also some ToT (transfer of technology), build strategy and cost problems," said a source. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Times of India website.

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