Indian Navy's new-gen ships face 'gun' uncertainty

Issue: 1 / 2014 January 20, 2014 By SP's Special Correspondent Photo(s): By Oto Melara, US Navy

A single vendor situation could throw the Indian Navy's effort to zero in on a primary deck gun for its new generation indigenous frontline warships: specifically the seven Project 17 Alpha (follow-on Shivalik class) stealth guided missile frigates, three Project 15 Alpha (Kolkata-class) and four Project 15 Beta guided missile destroyers.

The Indian Navy had identified the Oto Melara Otobreda 127/64 Lightweight (LW) naval gun and the BAE Systems Mk 45 Mod 4 127/62 naval gun system. However, with BAE Systems choosing not to bid for the competition, a peculiar situation has arisen. Oto Melara, the only company that has responded to the Navy's call for interest, is a subsidiary of Finmeccanica. While the Italian firm hasn't been officially blacklisted in the aftermath of the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal cancellation, speculation remains over whether Oto Melara has a fighting chance in any situation. However, the immediate chance of forward movement have been stalled by the more serious issue of non-competition.