New Delhi: Indian Navy is all set to get a new category of warship in its arsenal in the near future. The Navy is looking to lay its hands on underwater drones or unmanned submarines with the capability to track and attack enemy submarines in the next three years.
According to Russian news website Sputnik as well as Defence, Security Intelligence and Analysis portal Jane's 360, the Indian Navy wants the mini unmanned submarines or underwater drones equipped with passive sonar device to ensure that its nuclear-powered attack submarines can perform a more offensive role.
Sputnik claims the Navy's draft tender document says, "The underwater drone should be capable of missions lasting a minimum of 15 days at an economical speed of 3 knots." The Navy wants to complete the acquisition of the unmanned submarines by 2021.
Jane's 360 had on June 1, 2018 reported that the Indian Navy had issued two separate requests for information (RFIs) for unmanned underwater and surface vessels. The Navy wants 12 unmanned surface vessels (USVs), no longer than 12 metres each, with replaceable mission modules along with a simulator to train its personnel in mine countermeasures (MCM) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.
On the other hand, there is a requirement for eight high endurance autonomous underwater vehicles (HEAUVs) or underwater drones along with a simulator for training. Apart from MCM and ASW missions, the drones should also be capable of collecting oceanographic data collection.
The Navy wants transfer of technology under the "Make in India" plan as part of the deal if the warships are provided by a foreign company.
Sputnik reports that the Chinese navy has been operating Qianlong III and Haiyan underwater drones for the last several years.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has already developed an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) as technology demonstrator. The AUV platforms were being tested for a variety of roles including surveillance and mine countermeasures, the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar had told the Lok Sabha in March 2015.