Underwater domain awareness critical, says Navy Chief

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh. FIle   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

With regard to naval operations, underwater domain awareness (UDA) was one of the most critical areas for the country, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh said on Friday. Countries such as the U.S. and China, have harnessed the underwater domain extensively for military as well as civil use, he pointed out.

Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Adm Ashok Kumar said that to exploit the potential of unmanned technologies and platforms, the Navy had approved an “unmanned road map”.

Adm Singh said, “For instance, the discovery of ‘Chinese-origin’ autonomous underwater gliders in the Indonesian waters indicate the extent to which underwater technologies are being harnessed for military advantage by China”.

He was speaking at a webinar on ‘trends and technologies in underwater vehicles’ jointly organised by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers.

“The U.S. too has made rapid advances in this field, and have given some exposure to their technologies and system that we too wish to pursue,” he stated.

Talking of criticality of the UDA, he asserted that this assumed greater significance given the fact that while the Navy continued to hone its tactical Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities, the focus towards Theatre and Strategic ASW was inevitable and vital. “Advancements in Theatre and Strategic ASW would lead to advantageous outcomes in our favour, allowing us to deploy our capabilities in the right place at the right time,” he stressed.

Unmanned solutions

Vice Adm Kumar said the Navy had understood the importance of unmanned solutions and recently envisioned a detailed road map for itself in this realm. “We also intend to share with industry what we need, by when, at what cost and in what numbers, so that, potential collaborators understand the users’ vision and align to the needs.”

In the last couple of years, the Navy had announced a reorientation of the focus from manned to unmanned platforms. As part of that it had cut down the number of P-8I long- range patrol aircraft to go in for long-endurance drones. It was also decided to adopt Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) to cut down on the requirement of mine sweepers.

Talking of what the Navy is looking at in underwater domain, Vice Adm Kumar said that as industry developed UUVs for military purposes, it was imperative to consider their compatibility with the existing manned platforms as a critical deliverable.

Four categories of UUVs

Based on this, he listed out four categories of UUVs- man-portable Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles (AUVs) with swarm functionality with endurance of the order of 10 to 20 hours, lightweight AUVs compatible with the existing lightweight torpedo tubes onboard ships and endurance of about two days, heavyweight AUVs compatible with the existing heavyweight tubes and endurance of the order of 3 to 4 days, and high endurance AUVs with a capability of at least 15 days submerged endurance.

“In addition, development of undersea gliders for oceanographic data collection is also an important thrust area as it is useful for both military as well as blue economy needs of the nation,” Vice Adm Kumar added.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 4:09:15 PM |

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