Navy invests €7.1 million on upgrading Black Shark torpedoes

Hot-on-the-heels of the story that NATO is looking to Portugal to play “a key role” in face of increasing Russian activities in the north Atlantic comes news that the Navy is investing €7.1 million in upgrading its Black Shark torpedoes, housed on the notorious submarines Tridente and Arpão.

The two submarines – embroiled for years in the ‘submarine controversy’ that ended up being ‘archived’ despite arrests and convictions in Germany – have cost the country millions in maintenance since their costly purchase (for a tad less than one billion euros), signed off by former defence minister Paulo Portas in 2004.

In 2014, tabloid Correio da Manhã suggested the underwater craft would cost €10 million a year for the next 30 years just to service (click here).

Upgrades will be extra – and these torpedoes are just part of that package.

Today, CM says the latest modernisation will extend the torpedoes’ life by another 15 years – at least. Possibly more.

The upgrade – in the hands of Italian company Leonardo Defence Systems – will involve new programming and batteries, “to increase simulation capacity” and make training exercises “more rigorous”.

The work will go ahead in Alfeite – the naval docks near Almada, Lisbon, adds CM, saying the torpedoes have a “range of 50 km and are guided to their target” (sic).

The Navy’s investment will be staggered over the next couple of years, not seeing the full €7.1 million spent before 2019, the paper concludes, while negocios online suggests the €7.1 million price tag excludes the IVA (VAT) that will also have to be paid.

The torpedoes, 24 in total (12 per submarine) cost the government €42 million in 2005, adds the website – explaining that the Navy purchased them before it actually took delivery of the submarines.

As negocios online explains: “everything about the two submarines has been involved in controversy”.

For example, in the case of the torpedos, their purchase involved a €47 million contra-deal with Italian company WASS – part of Finnmecannica, which is owned by Leonardo Defence Systems, says the website.

But in 2013, the then economy minister Álvaro Santos Pereira cancelled the contra deal, saying WASS had failed to comply.

The fracas cost Portugal dearly. In 2013, TSF radio put the damages at €35 million which “could have been worse if Portugal didn’t have bank guarantees of €11.5 million”.

But according to negocios online, Portugal “executed” those guarantees against WASS, which later put Portugal and the BBVA bank in court.

Last year the case was reported to be still “going through the legal steps”.

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