Navy researches ways to build stealth submarines

A group of 30 officers from Indian Navy will engage in an elaborate research at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) here with a view to reduce vulnerability of military submarines and ships to detection by the enemy from noise and vibrations generated by propulsions that run them.

Commodore A K Sinha (retd), DIAT registrar, who also specialises in submarines, told TOI on Tuesday, “The naval headquarters recently communicated to us the need for a collaborative research project on this aspect. As of now, 30 naval officers are pursuing advanced postgraduate studies at DIAT and these officers, along with the institute’s professors, will work on the project.”

Sinha said, “The project, to be directly monitored by naval headquarters, is at a primary stage and we are working on various aspects related to it. Our laboratories will play a key role as they have modern equipment essential for carrying out such research. The practical aspect of the project will be carried out by the navy on its ships and submarines.”

Element of stealth is critical to military submarines which are designed to move around undetected under the sea and surface only in situations where they need to establish radio contact or perform data communication with their respective headquarters.

A senior navy officer, who did not wish to be named, told TOI over phone, “Every ship and submarine is equipped with different types of propulsion system and each of these systems generate a particular type of noise or vibration underwater. Using sound navigation and ranging, better known as sonars, the enemy can identify the type of ship or submarine, distance and its speed. Reducing or tweaking propulsion sound of ship and submarine will give a big operational advantage.”

He said, “Modern generation stealth submarines are difficult to track. The submarines of Class A212 of German Federal Navy or Saab A26 of Swedish Navy have been designed in such a way that they hardly make any noise, emit almost no heat and minutely reflect radar or sonar signals. To develop such systems, researchers need to carry out studies so that we can develop such systems indigenously.”

Another senior navy officer said, “Propulsions generate maximum noise and vibrations under water. If you equip ship or submarine with silent propulsion, you will have to compromise on speed and longevity of the vehicle. Therefore, having a new propulsion system which will generate less noise and vibration and at the same time have no effect on other functioning of ships and submarines is critical.”




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