Narendra Modi govt puts Indian Navy’s Made in India submarine programme into top gear
Indian Navy has a commendable track record in indigenously designing and constructing advanced front line warships such as destroyers, frigates, anti-submarine warfare corvettes and landing crafts. Currently it is in the midst of constructing an aircraft carrier. Among the three branches of the armed forces, the Navy has the distinction of having a staggering 85-90% indigenous content on the latest naval platforms in service.
However, while Indian Navy has achieved large-scale indigenisation in warship building, the same cannot be said for submarine design and construction. According to naval chief Admiral Sunil Lanba, “The aim of the Indian Navy is to indigenously design and construct the submarines with the help of industry, academia and R&D.”
“Of the 24 submarines which are to be acquired as part of the 30-year submarine building plan of India, six submarines have been ordered on MDL, and the same are being built with the help of transfer of technology from the French company DCNS,” points out defence minister Manohar Parrikar. In comparison, India has to still work on its submarine building programme and expand its fleet beyond the planned 24.
The underwater platforms built under the aegis of Advanced Technology Vessel Programme (ATVP) achieved indigenisation content of greater than 70% but the P75 India programme has not achieved quantitative indigenisation and is limited to 30%. For enhancing its underwater surveillance capability, the Navy recently received four naval systems developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The systems included Abhay—compact hull mounted sonar for shallow water crafts, Humsa UG—upgrade for the Humsa sonar system, NACS —Near-field Acoustic Characterisation System, and AIDSS—Advanced Indigenous Distress Sonar System for submarines. Defence Research and Development Organisation’s National Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory, based in Kochi, has designed the systems.
Sonar is a technique that uses sound to detect objects under water. Indian Navy and DRDO have been successful in developing several naval systems, which will provide a fillip to the quest for self-reliance in this critical area of technology. The Navy has also launched the Integrated Underwater Harbour Defence and Surveillance System (IUHDSS)—a multi-sensor system capable of detecting, identifying, tracking and generating warnings for all types of surface and underwater threats to Visakhapatnam harbour. Also, the creation of the Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB), induction of Fast Interceptor Crafts (FICs) and commissioning of the IUHDSS are some of the Navy’s initiatives to strengthen security.
Abhay is an advanced active-cum-passive integrated sonar system designed and developed for the smaller platforms such as shallow water crafts and coastal surveillance/patrol vessels. Designed using the latest technology in hardware architecture and advanced signal processing algorithms, the sonar is capable of detecting, localising, classifying and tracking sub-surface and surface targets in both its active and passive modes of operation.
The prototype of Abhay installed on board a nominated naval platform has successfully completed all user evaluation trials to demonstrate the features as per the Naval Staff Qualification Requirements. This system is proposed to be installed on seven ships of three different classes of ships.