Indian-made torpedo found washed up on beach in Myanmar
Photos of what appears to be an Indian-made torpedo that washed up on a beach in Myanmar began circulating online yesterday and were seen as cause for concern by some who came across it. As Myanmar’s military reportedly launches an investigation into the case, internet sleuths have uncovered details that point to the torpedo maybe being a training cycle and could help explain its origin.
The images began to appear on social media early Wednesday morning after the Twitter user @ Michel04222710 shared four images of the failed munition. Foreign reports said locals initially discovered it in the nearby town of Munaung, Rakhine State, while visiting the beach for recreation. Rakhine is located in western Myanmar and its coastline falls directly on the Bay of Bengal. Since the bay is frequently used for exercises by several navies, this could explain how the torpedo managed to run aground there. Major multinational exercises also take place there. For example, the Indian Navy this year participated in a naval exercise with the US Navy called Exercise Milan 2022 in late February which took place in the Bay of Bengal.
However, despite numerous scattered reports of the incident claiming that the discovery was the result of a misfire on the part of the Indian Navy, or otherwise related to that service, this may not be the case for a number of reasons. . More importantly, the silver torpedo bears the words “D&P torpedo” along with the serial number “LWT-XP”. This specific designation would imply that the munition is a Shyena Advanced Light Torpedo (TAL), the first indigenous light anti-submarine torpedo to be deployed in India after production began in 2012.
But here’s the thing: In March 2017, India and Myanmar entered into a $37.9 million contract to export an undisclosed number of Shyenas to the Myanmar Navy. According to a report published by The diplomatMyanmar received the first batch of these torpedoes in July 2019. The diplomat The article goes on to explain that the global delivery was an effort by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to strengthen relations with Myanmar under the pre-established Act East policy formerly known as the Look East policy. This legislation aims to better cultivate strategic and economic relations between the countries of Southeast Asia in order to consolidate themselves as a regional power against China.
Developed by the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory of the Indian Navy’s Defense Research and Development Organization, the Shyena torpedo is nine feet long and was designed to be launched by certain ships, submarines and types of helicopters belonging to the Indian Navy. However, while the orange color seems to be commonly included in the design of an armed Shyena to some extent, the specific silver coating associated with the thick orange stripe seen in the photos may not be. . This further bolsters the argument that this is a practice cycle as bright colors are often used to aid in retrieval of this ammunition after practice exercises. Not only that, but “D&P” could stand for “exercise and practice”, which is a commonly used term for inert training weapons and ammunition.
Again, all of this is unconfirmed and all ammunition must be treated as live and deadly, whether inert or not. Even if the weapons do not have a warhead, they may contain other dangerous substances and they should never be approached closely by passers-by.
Another Twitter user rightly pointed out that the Myanmar Navy had recently issued a warning alerting the local public to upcoming naval exercises scheduled to take place between June 23 and July 9. While it is unclear whether the citizens of this specific coastal village of Rakhine received the message, the notice implored civilians to avoid the area during the established time frame, but provided no further details as to specific drills. that would take place.
While protocol may be different in Myanmar, warnings like this often precede exercises with some sort of live-fire component, whether that be test firings of torpedoes or anti-ship missiles, but it is not acquired. Since 2021, Myanmar has also been embroiled in what UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet called a civil war, so the country’s military may just want to do what it can to keep the local population as far away from defense exercises as possible.
One such exercise that would also align with the Myanmar Navy Alert’s proposed schedule is called Sea Shield 2022. The training event began on July 1 and took place off Rakhine where the torpedo unarmed was found. According to local news sources, this year’s Sea Shield would have included 20 warships consisting of both frigates and submarines as well as helicopters piloted by the Myanmar Air Force. Twitter users even shared snapshots apparently from the exercise in response to the initial report of the torpedo running aground, and in them at least three rounds can be seen mid-launch from a ship’s deck. One of the ammunition is clearly represented by a thick orange band similar to that discovered on land.
As mentioned earlier, practice torpedoes often used in exercises like Myanmar’s Sea Shield are usually recovered after being launched, but reports that the weather at this year’s practice event was particularly unsatisfactory could help explain how the torpedo managed to escape.
This incident is also far from the first time that military equipment has found its way into the hands of residents who populate coastal cities around the world, with a US Air Force BQM-167A target drone loaded with decoy consumables that s washed up on West Palm Beach just last year. In 2020, an Indonesian fisherman even rocked a Chinese underwater drone near the Selayar Islands.
It will be interesting to see what happens to the wayward torpedo. We will keep you informed if we know more about his fate.
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