The document accessed by Sputnik indicates that the underwater drones should be equipped with a passive sonar device to enable constant tracking of submarines or undertake anti-submarine warfare tasks, thereby, freeing the nuclear-powered attack submarines to perform more critical functions.
New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian Navy has re-started a process to procure eight ‘high endurance' autonomous underwater vehicles' — mini unmanned submarines built for specific programmed tasks at sea. The unmanned vehicles are envisaged to be used for anti-submarine warfare, mine-countermeasures and intelligence roles. The navy also indicated that if the procurement is to be made from a global supplier, the contract should include the transfer of technology so that they are locally produced under the "Make in India" component.
"The underwater drone should be capable of missions lasting a minimum of 15 days at an economical speed of 3 knots," the draft tender document of the Indian Navy reads.
The official tender is expected to be released later this year and the procurement is envisaged to be completed by 2021.
While the Chinese navy has since long deployed a slew of autonomous underwater vehicles, including the long endurance Qianlong III and Haiyan in the South China Sea, the Indian Navy has been trying to acquire the critical maritime asset since 2010. Lack of political backing and fund crisis have been highly cited as the reasons behind the delay in finalizing the procurement.
In 2010, the Indian Navy had posted a requirement of underwater drones that could conduct 7-8 hour missions, focused primarily on surveillance, mine-countermeasures, and seabed mapping.
The latest tender with modified requirements will be open for global as well as local developers/producers.
In 2015, state-owned Defence Research and Development Organization had displayed an autonomous underwater four-meter long, 1.4-metre wide, flat fish-shaped prototype which can travel at a speed of about seven km per hour at depths of up to 300 meters below sea level. Manohar Parrikar, the then defense minister, had announced in the Parliament that a feasibility study was being undertaken for the development of different types of autonomous underwater vehicles platforms ranging from hand-held slow-speed ones to military-class platforms, with the capability to assist in the entire gamut of maritime security.