Sunday, June 10, 2012

India to buy 8 warships from South Korea for Rs 6,000 crore

In tune with a growing 'strategic partnership' with South Korea, India is now getting all set to ink a major defence contract with the north-east Asian country for acquisition of eight advanced minesweeping and hunting warships.

Under the programme, which will be worth well over Rs 6,000 crore, India will get two of the mine counter-measures vessels (MCMVs) directly from South Korean firm Kangnam Corporation, while the other six will be manufactured by Goa Shipyard after transfer of technology. "The contract is now being finalized after the conclusion of the commercial negotiations," said a source.

India's need for advanced MCMVs that combine the role of traditional minesweepers and active mine-hunters to detect and destroy underwater mines is critical. Despite intelligence inputs holding that Indian harbours face the clear and present danger of underwater mines being planted by both state as well as non-state actors, the Navy's MCMV project has been hanging fire for several years now.

"Underwater mines are cheap weapons that can be used for high-impact incidents. It's relatively easy for someone to lay mines at the harbour approach or departure routes. There is need to step-up the protection of our harbours and offshore installations," said an official.

Made of composite material and high-grade steel to ensure 'minimal magnetivity', the new MCMVs will have high-definition sonars and acoustic and magnetic sweeps to first detect all kinds of marooned and drifting mines and then use remote-controlled systems like small underwater vehicles to then detonate them at safe distances.

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