India to beef up underwater surveillance, anti-submarine operations

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Kochi, Jul 2 (UNI) India plans expand the bluewater capabilities of the Navy with more indigenously built platforms which can carry out underwater surveillance and anti-submarine warfare operations, Union Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said today.

Speaking at a function here after formally handing over to Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL) the technology for the third generation ship sonar 'HUNSA NG', he said these sonars would be fitted on a range of Indian Navy warships including frigates, destroyers and corvettes to be built in the Indian dockyards. It will also replace earlier sets progressively..

He congratulated the scientists of the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) institution located here, for developing and transferring the technology in the stipulated time.

The total production of NPOL sonar will go up by another Rs 200 crore when the new sonars are produced, he said.

Stressing the importance of naval research for a country like India, which has a 7,400 km long coastline and two island chains, Mr Raju said the Indian Ocean, once can ocean of peace, could become a hotbed of hostilities.

There was increased movement of superpower submarines in the region and naval build-ups in the area which India had to be on an alert against.

Besides protecting sea trade and communication lanes, ports and Indian assets abroad, the Navy also had to be equipped to check drug and human trafficking, terrorism and piracy.

''For India to be the dominant power in the area, it is important for us to equip the Navy with bluewater capability,'' he added.

The minister noted that two of the NPOL's towed array systems were close to user evaluation. Navy had also evinced interest in Low Frequency Dunking Sonar (LFDS) under development at NPOL by funding the installation on the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).

In the context of low intensity warfare, the NPOL's efforts in coastal surveillance systems also needed to be augmented, Mr Raju said.

Stating that delay in delivery of goods and services had been a major point of criticism against the DRDO, the minister said the organisation needed to transfer technologies to its industrial partners effectively and efficiently.

In this context, he praised the successful three-decade-old partnership between NPOL and BEL.

Chief Controller R&D, DRDO, Dr Sivathanu Pillai, said the sonar technology developed at NPOL was comparable to the best in the world and was ready for export to other countries.

The tsunami warning system and the 'Sanjeevani' life detecting device were some of the other NPOL technologies with multi-faceted applications, he said.

Mr VVR Sastry, CMD, BEL, said with global players entering the Rs 54,000 crore Indian defence market, the competition was heating up for the local defence-related industries.

Mr S Anantha Narayanan, Director, NPOL, was also present on the occasion.

UNI ARC KKS1546

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