India seeks to develop a submarine-launched UAV

India seeks to develop a submarine-launched UAV


Project 75.jpg
Project 75 | The Indian Navy is interested in underwater-launched UAVs for submarines such as the Kalvari-class boat pictured here. (Indian Navy)

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India’s state-run defence R&D agency, issued an EoI in late May to gather information about UAVs and loitering munitions able to be launched from underwater vessels.

Under the MoD’s Technology Development Fund Scheme, the EoI was issued to Indian industrial partners with the aim of developing a new type of UAV for the Indian Navy.

The EoI encompasses an underwater-launched UAV (ULUAV) capable of launch from inside a submerged submarine or large autonomous underwater vehicle. The aircraft would be launched from a regular submarine torpedo tube at a depth of up to 50m.

After emerging from the water, this UAV would perform ISR, target tracking and maritime domain awareness by day or night to boost the tactical capabilities of Indian submarines.

Another task for the ULUAV mentioned in the EoI document is beach reconnaissance for special forces, as well as a secondary role of battle damage assessment.

Such UAVs would need to transmit real-time photos and video back to the submarine through a line-of-sight data link.

After completing its mission, the ULUAV, despite being described as expendable, would be recovered ‘either aboard a consort platform using a one-point recovery system, or by means of a floatation bag’.

The EO/IR payload on the ULUAV would be housed in a watertight canister, while its control station aboard the host vessel would consist of a ruggedised storage box with charging mechanism and extra batteries.

The EoI also mentioned the prospect of a loitering munition, where the UAV carries an explosive warhead. Responses to this EoI are due by 22 June.

In a related development, Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) issued a 15-page EoI on 8 March to seek an overseas collaborative partner for the design, development and construction of an extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle (XLUUV). 

The XLUUV’s potential missions include anti-submarine warfare, EW, anti-surface warfare, mine countermeasures and even strike missions. MDL stated: ‘The XLUUV will transit to an area of operation, loiter with the ability to periodically establish communications, deploy payloads, carry out various pre-programmed missions and transit home.’

By: Gordon Arthur / Christchurch
Article | Shephard Media

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