Indigenously-built heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo Varunastra has been successfully inducted in the navy, making India one of the eight countries to have the capability to design and build such a system.
Developed by Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), a premier laboratory of DRDO, the electric torpedo was today formally handed over to Indian Navy and the induction is set to be a “game-changer” boost for it.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the programme is not only a boost to country’s indigenous capability but also an opportunity for export to other countries.
Defence sources said sale of Varunastra, weighing around 1.25 tonnes that carries about 250 kg of explosives at a speed of around 40 nautical miles an hour, was also one of the issues that came up for discussion during Parrikar’s recent visit to Vietnam.
Having almost 95 per cent indigenous content, Varunastra, costing about Rs 10-12 crore per unit, is capable of targeting quiet and stealthy submarines, both in deep and littoral waters in intense counter-measure environment.
“Successful induction of Varunastra into our navy will be a game-changer in favour of the warships in the sub-surface warfare. This landmark has put navy in elite club of navies across the globe that can boast of self-reliance in under water sensors and under water weapons,” Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said.
He however rued that the development of this torpedo had “indeed being long”. “We need to work towards a reasonable time-frame from concept to realisation to address our capability gap in time,”
On his part, DRDO chief S Christopher said the normal gestation period for development of such a technology was 10 years and they took a year extra as there were many issues since it was being done for the first time.
From availability of ships and submarines for testing to numerous aspects of technology, he listed a number of reasons that delayed the project.
Parrikar directed the DRDO not to have a hands-off approach now that they have developed the torpedo, and handed over the technology to BDL for production.
“You cannot be a hospital where a child is born. You will have to stay along at least till the child is able to stand up and run around,” Parrikar said as he suggested placing a small DRDO team with state-run BDL for a limited period.
He rued that the light-wight torpedos did not come at par with the quality expectation of the navy.
Parrikar also said that DRDO should also rope in a private company for future projects so that there is a good competition.
The torpedo can be launched from Kolkata, Delhi, Teg, Talwar and Kamorta classes of ships.
They have conformal array transducer which can look at wider angles than other torpedos. Varunastra has been designed with latest technologies such as high-speed and long endurance propulsion, software driven intelligence, conformal array acoustic homing with wide look angle and advanced digital signal processing.
It is also having advanced autonomous guidance algorithms with low drift navigational aids, insensitive warhead which can operate in various combat scenarios.
Varunastra exercise variant has integrated instrumentation system for recording all the dynamic parameters of the weapon, redundancy in recovery aids in case of emergency shut down or malfunction.
It has a GPS-based locating aid, a unique feature in contemporary torpedoes in the world.
‘Varunastra’ was extensively tested at sea in association with Indian Navy for evaluating the weapon capabilities as per Naval Staff qualitative requirements.
The weapon has completed all environmental qualification tests like shock, vibration, temperature cycling, marine environmental tests.