By Staff Correspondent
In a significant boost to ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’, the Fuel Cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) will soon be fitted onboard INS Kalvari.
On 23 January 2023, an agreement was signed between senior officials of NMRL and Naval Group France in Mumbai to extend cooperation to enter into the detailed design phase for integrating indigenous AIP in the Kalvari class submarines. Naval Group France will certify the AIP design for submarine integration as part of the agreement.
The AIP is said to have a force multiplier effect on the lethality of a diesel-electric submarine as it enhances submerged endurance by several folds. It has merits in performance compared to other technologies and is unique as the hydrogen is generated onboard. NMRL has successfully developed this technology with the support of Indian industrial partners. Technology has now reached the stage of maturity for industrialisation.
It may be poignant to note that the land-based prototype of the NMRL’s AIP has been tested successfully. This new endeavour will be a significant step towards the detailed design certification of the energy module, which NMRL will perform along with the Indian industry and design of the platforms impacted by the integration of the indigenous AIP inside the Indian submarine by Naval Group.
These actions will seamlessly lead the way to the start of the localisation and industrialisation of AIP, including the hull fabrication by the Indian industry for future fitment onboard the submarines.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Naval Group France, Mr Pierre Eric Pommellet highlighted that they are proud to cooperate with Indian stakeholders to safely integrate the AIP in the Kalvari class submarines Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) has built.
The development is a natural extension of strategic bilateral cooperation shared between India and France in underwater defence and deterrence in line with Naval Group’s continued commitment towards the government’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ policy.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has complimented DRDO, Indian Navy and MDL for taking the Aatmanirbhar Bharat initiative forward in the underwater domain. Secretary of Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr Samir V Kamat congratulated NMRL, Indian Navy, MDL and Naval Group France for this strategic partnership.