Indian navy to procure eight ‘high endurance’ mini unmanned submarines

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

The Chinese navy is far ahead when it comes to the development of unmanned mini-submarine.The Chinese navy has long endurance Qianlong III and Haiyan in South China. It can be considered as the best low-cost option for India to deter China in India ocean.

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.
India can use unmanned mini-submarine for following mission
  • Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance
  • Mine countermeasures
  • Anti-submarine warfare
  • Inspection/identification
  • Oceanography
  • Communication/navigation network nodes
  • Payload delivery
  • Information operations
  • Time-critical strike
In 2015, state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation 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 defence 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.
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