The Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh on Friday said, “ with regard to naval operations, underwater domain awareness (UDA) is one of the most critical areas for India.”
In a statement giving wings to Admiral Karambir’s statement, the Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ashok Kumar announced that to exploit the potential of unmanned technologies and platforms, the Navy has approved an “unmanned road map”.
What is an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV)?
The Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV), also known as the underwater drones refers to any submersible vehicles that can operate underwater without human support or intervention.
These are robotic vehicles that can be classified into the two categories of remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROUVs) and autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs).
Remotely Operated Underwater vehicles (ROU) are remotely controlled by a human operator, whereas, Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are highly automated and operate independently.
Often vehicles in the second category are considered under the category of unmanned vehicles.
Imperative of having an unmanned underwater vehicle:
The Chief of the Indian Naval Staff Admiral Karambir 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”.
“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”.
Vice Admiral 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, it was decided to adopt Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) to cut down on the requirement of minesweepers. Vice Admiral Kumar said that as the industry developed UUVs for military purposes, it is imperative to consider their compatibility with the existing manned platforms as a critical deliverable.
Vice Admiral Kumar listed out four categories of UUVs- man-portable Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles (AUVs) with swarm functionality with an 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.
India’s efforts in UUV:
L&T is developing a number of Autonomous Underwater Vehicles(AUVs), L&T displayed the Amogh, Adamya & the Maya AUVs in DefExpo 2020
The focus towards Theatre and Strategic ASW is 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,” Admiral Singh stressed.