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Strategically important Air Independent Propulsion tech for Navy submarines achieves milestone: MoD

The Ministry said the technology has reached 'maturity' to be fitted on submarines.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
Updated: March 10, 2021 12:57:42 am
Air Independent Propulsion, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Naval Materials Research Laboratory, Indian Navy, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, india news, indian expressThe system is being developed by DRDO's Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), located at Ambernath in Thane district of Maharashtra. (Express Photo)

THE strategically important Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) crucial for diesel electric submarines, being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), achieved a key milestone by undergoing further land-based tests in tune with requirements of the Indian Navy, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. The Ministry said the technology has reached ‘maturity’ to be fitted on submarines.

“DRDO has achieved an important milestone in the development of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) System by proving the land-based prototype on March 8. The plant was operated in endurance mode and max power mode as per the user requirements.” read a press statement from the Ministry of Defence. The system is being developed by DRDO’s Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL), located at Ambernath in Thane district of Maharashtra.

Indian Navy has both conventional and nuclear submarines in its arsenal. The fleet of conventional submarines use diesel-electric engines, which require them to surface almost daily to get atmospheric oxygen for fuel combustion. With the Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system on board, these submarines will be required to surface much less frequently, thus increasing their lethality and stealth multifold. Similar tests of the AIP prototype were conducted back in October 2019.

While nuclear-powered submarines are considered as key assets for deep sea operations, the conventional diesel electric ones are vital for coastal defence and operations close to the shore. The indigenously-developed AIP, which is one of the key missions of the NMRL, is considered one of the ambitious projects of the DRDO for the Navy. The project aims at fitting the technology on India’s Scorpene class submarine INS Kalvari around 2023.

“While there are different types of AIP systems being pursued internationally, fuel cell-based AIP of NMRL is unique as the hydrogen is generated onboard,” read the MoD statement.

“The technology has been successfully developed with the support of industry partners L&T and Thermax. It has now reached the stage of maturity for fitment into target vessels.” The statement further said.

“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO, Indian Navy and Industry for the achievement. DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy appreciated the efforts of the teams involved in the successful development. He called upon the DRDO fraternity to come up with more such advanced technological achievements by putting extraordinary efforts,” stated the MOD release.

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