Wednesday, December 7, 2022

‘Made-In-India’ Torpedo Washes Ashore At Myanmar Beach; Military Launches Investigation, Netizens Puzzled

The images that went viral on July 13 show what appears to be an Indian-made torpedo washing up on a beach in Myanmar. The pictures were reportedly taken by the locals who first came across it in the nearby town of Munaung in Rakhine State. 

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According to the reports, Myanmar’s military has already launched an investigation. A Twitter user first shared the images, writing, “An unexploded torpedo was found on a beach in Burma! After verification, this is the LWT-XP light torpedo from the Indian Navy.” 

Rakhine is a region of western Myanmar that borders the Bay of Bengal. Experts believe the torpedo may have washed up at this location since various navies frequently use the area for drills.

For example, in late February this year, the Indian Navy and the US Navy took part in Exercise Milan 2022, a naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal. Similarly, In January 2022, the Indian Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force participated in a Maritime Partnership exercise in the Bay of Bengal. 

Image
Indian-made torpedo washing up on a beach in Myanmar

The torpedo is silver in color and bears the inscription “D&P torpedo” and the serial number “LWT-XP.” Given that designation, it is likely that the weapon is a Shyena Advanced Light Torpedo (TAL), India’s first homegrown, lightweight anti-submarine torpedo. Following its production in 2012, the service began to field it. 

Does It Belong To The Indian Navy? 

Despite sporadic reports of the incident claiming that the Indian Navy was responsible for the torpedo’s appearance, experts have noted some other facts. A $37.9 million contract between India and Myanmar was reached in March 2017 to export an unspecified number of Shyenas to the Myanmar Navy. 

The Diplomat reported that Myanmar received the first shipment of those torpedoes in July 2019. The report continues by stating that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an effort to improve ties with Myanmar as part of the pre-established Act East policy, formerly known as the Look East policy. 

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In addition, India gifted a Russian-built Kilo Class submarine to the Myanmar navy on December 24, 2020, as previously reported by the EurAsian Times. It was done partly to thwart the growing Chinese influence in the region.

The Shyena torpedo is nine feet long and was developed by the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation for the Indian Navy. It was designed to be launched by specific ships, submarines, and helicopter types that are a part of the Indian Navy. 

Advanced Light Torpedo Shyena - Wikipedia
Advanced Light Torpedo Shyena – Wikipedia

While orange appears to be a color frequently used in the design of an armed Shyena in some way, the silver coating and thick orange stripe that can be seen in the photos are not so standard. 

Since bright colors are frequently used to make such munitions easier to recover after training exercises, this proves that it is a training round. Additionally, “D&P” might stand for “drill and practice,” frequently used to refer to inert training weapons and ammunition. 

In a similar line, Vice Admiral Arun Kumar Singh (Retd) noted that the torpedo is a “practice/experimental test torpedo” that “apparently was lost post firing, despite having an SOP for firing & recovery of such torpedoes.” 

Myanmar’s Navy’s Recent Exercise In The Region

A Twitter user also noted that the Myanmar Navy had recently issued a warning informing the local population of forthcoming naval exercises scheduled between June 23 and July 9. 

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The notice reportedly asked civilians to stay away from the area during the designated time frame. Experts believe that warnings like this frequently come before drills involving live fire, whether torpedo or anti-ship missile tests. 

The “Sea Shield 2022” exercise fits this description and the timeframe provided by the alert from the Myanmar Navy. The training exercise started on July 1 and was conducted off the coast of Rakhine, where the unarmed torpedo was discovered.

According to local news sources, this year’s Sea Shield featured 20 warships, including frigates, submarines, and helicopters piloted by Myanmar’s Air Force. Some netizens even shared images purportedly from the exercise. 

In those images, at least three rounds can be seen mid-launch from a ship’s deck. A thick orange stripe that resembles the one found ashore is clearly shown on one of the weapons. 

Training torpedoes are usually recovered after being launched in drills like Myanmar’s Sea Shield. However, speculations suggest that this year’s training event was held in unfavorable weather, which may have contributed to the current predicament.

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