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09:22 AM, February 7, 2019
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Indian Navy's M72 minesweeper (image: NDTV)

The Indian Navy has inked a INR 306 Crore ($42 Million) deal with Thales Australia for eight mine counter-measure clip-on influence sweeps.

"In order to meet the requirement, a contract for procurement of eight Clip Influence Sweep (CLOIS) for minesweeping has already been concluded", Subhash Bhamre, India's minister of state for defence was quoted by Sputnik as informing the parliament on Wednesday.

The navy will equip its fast interceptor crafts scheduled to be delivered in 2021-2022 with these suites having infrasonic advanced acoustic generators, TOI reported Thursday.

The suites are an interim measure until the navy acquires advanced minesweepers or mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs). These 1,000-tonne vessels can detect, track and destroy underwater mines laid by enemy forces to choke harbours and offshore installations, disrupt shipping and marine trade.

The navy has a requirement for 24 MCMVs, but the acquisition case that began in 2005 is yet to take off despite the minesweepers being among the navy’s critical operational requirements.

The Indian government sought eight MCMVs through indigenous construction, which was later revised to "acquisition of two from foreign collaborator and six from Indian Shipyard" in 2005. However, due to non-compliance of tender conditions by the foreign collaborator, the acquisition process was dropped in 2014, according to the Sputnik report.

In 2015, Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) was nominated to construct MCMVs under a Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement from the South Korean company Kangnam Corporation in a contract valued at INR 36,000 Crore ($5.1 billion), but due to non-compliance with the ToT requirement and Shipyard over-pricing issues, GSL cancelled the process in January 2018.

China, India’s neighbor has 100 MCMVs and there has been an increase in the operational deployments of Chinese stealth submarines in the Indian Ocean Region.

Minesweepers are small naval warships that detect and destroy underwater mines and are considered vital for keeping the critical sea lanes safe for movement of essential cargo, including crude oil.

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