NEW DELHI, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- India is set to sign a $1.2 billion contract later this year with South Korean shipyard Kangnam for eight minesweepers .
The deal is to replace India's aging fleet of 12 Pondicherry and Karwar class minesweepers.
DefenseNews.com quoted an unnamed Ministry of Defense official as saying the navy could give additional orders to the South Korean company for counter-mine ships, since the service has a requirement for more than 24 minesweepers.
No date was given for the signing that would end a 5-year procurement process.
DefenseNews.com also reported that the contract with Kangnam has been delayed because of issues relating to the procurement.
Italy-based Intermarine, which was competing for the contract, had approached India's anti-fraud agency the Central Vigilance Commission over concerns with transparency of the purchasing process.
The CVC cleared the purchase last year, DefenseNews reported.
The Hindu newspaper reported in 2011 that under the proposed deal Kangnam Corp. would build two of the vessels at their shipyard in Busan, South Korea.
The other six will be manufactured by India's Goa Shipyard after a transfer-of-technology agreement.
Last year the Times of India reported that the vessels will be made of composite material and high-grade steel to ensure minimal magnetivity.
High-definition sonars and acoustic and magnetic sweeps will be used to detect marooned and drifting mines. Remote-controlled systems including small underwater vehicles will be used to detonate the devices at safe distances.
India's 200-foot long Pondicherry class ships are minesweepers built for the Indian navy by the Soviet Union from 1978-88 and are modified versions of the Russian Natya class minesweeper. Later vessels often are referred to as Karwar class ships because of upgrades and the addition of surface-to-air missiles.
Last month the navy got it first indigenously built Hawk Mk-132 advanced trainer jets.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., which makes the aircraft under license from BAE Systems' aerospace division, delivered the Hawks during a ceremony at HAL's Bangalore plant, a statement by HAL said.
HAL said the five trainer jets to be delivered by the end of the fiscal year are part of a larger order from the navy for 17 aircraft to be delivered by 2016.
The Ministry of Defense ordered the navy's Hawks, as well as 40 more Hawks for the air force, in 2010. Their primary use is for training pilots, but the Hawk can be upgraded quickly to be used as a ground attack aircraft, HAL said.
India is now the third naval operator of Hawk trainers, along with the U.S. Navy and that of the United Kingdom, a statement from BAE Systems said.