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New Sonar system to boost Navy’s warfare capability

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John L. Paul

PSUs help to ensure speedy product delivery

KOCHI: The Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) is working on developing Sonar (Sound Navigation and Ranging) systems, which are lighter, compact and superior in performance, to boost the maritime warfare capability of the Navy’s ships and submarines. Scientists here are conducting research on developing micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)-based sensors to improve underwater surveillance capability of the vessels.

The compact Sonar thus produced will fit more easily in submarines and ships. The latest in its inventory is a new generation Sonar — Humsa-NG for use in warships.

The cost of manufacturing Sonar systems is Rs.20 crore to Rs.60 crore for each unit.

The Navy stepped up research in anti-submarine warfare after INS Khukri, an Indian warship, was lost to a Pakistani submarine in the1971 war.

The Pakistan Navy has a formidable submarine capability and the Chinese Navy operates nuclear-powered submarines, which India is yet to acquire. The NPOL is the sole Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory in the State. “We are the only agency in the country with core competence in Sonar technology,” said director S. Anantha Narayanan, who was project director of ‘Panchendriya,’ the first indigenously-developed Sonar system for submarines.

Recently, the agency developed the Ushus Sonar for use in submarines and this won the AGNI Award for self-reliance from the Prime Minister in May last. This Sonar is considered to be a versatile system to detect submarines and ships and is comparable to the best in the world.

Helicopter Sonars

Opening another chapter in its 56-year history (NPOL is older than the DRDO), the laboratory is working on inducting Sonars in helicopters.

“When this is done, we can meet even the air-borne requirements of the Navy, thus fulfilling our three-dimensional role,” Mr. Narayanan said. Associate director (Sonar systems) of the laboratory, R. Kanakarajan, said scientists and officials of the laboratory often worked in harsh environments on board submarines for weeks together, in close interaction with Navy personnel — the end users of Sonar systems. “For us, each project is a challenge”.

Public sector agencies such as Bharat Electronics, HAL, Keltron and some prominent private firms are involved in the development of advanced Sonar systems, so that the products are ready in lesser time

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