Thursday, June 13, 2024

India Bolsters Naval Capabilities With Strategic Investment In Rising Global UUV Market

By Staff Correspondent

The Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) sector, valued at approximately $2.83 billion in 2022, is on course to hit the $4.44 billion mark, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8%, an analysis presented by The Insight Partners has shown. Their study spanned key global economies, including India, China, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

As per the geographic segmentation of the UUV market, North America dominates the landscape due to the saturation of manufacturers and suppliers. Another reason for its position at the helm is the pivotal role played by software enterprises in enhancing the UUV potential. Conversely, the Asia Pacific region, with nations such as India, China and Japan, is earmarked for increasing investment towards the evolution of sophisticated underwater robotics.

UUVs, characterised by their capacity for underwater mine detection and neutralisation, intelligence acquisition, and search and rescue operations, can be fitted with a plethora of devices, including cameras, sensors, and exclusive sonar equipment, facilitating high-definition data acquisition and meticulous underwater mapping.

India’s Multiple Forays Into UUV Market

Interestingly, the UUV market exhibits a considerable military skew. In light of this, the Indian Navy has expressed intent to venture into unmanned platforms, alluding to their strategic advantages. UUVs can engage in both offensive and defensive operations in underwater warfare. They can execute tasks ranging from weapon delivery to reconnaissance and enemy communication disruption.

Former Vice Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ashok Kumar (r), categorised UUVs into four primary types: man-portable Autonomous Unmanned Vehicles (AUVs) with swarm capabilities; lightweight AUVs compatible with the lightweight torpedo tubes of ships; heavyweight AUVs aligning with in-service heavyweight tubes; and high endurance AUVs capable of maintaining submergence for up to 15 days.

Initiating a project aimed at the design and development of Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (XLUUV), India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has outlined plans for the Indian Navy to procure 12 XLUUVs post the successful completion of a prototype and all associated trials. The intended deployment of the XLUUV spans a range of operations, including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and mine warfare.

IADB had previously reported about private sector firm L&T showcasing Adamya, Amogh, and Maya Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) at DefExpo 2020. The Indian private sector firm’s offering was reported to be the forerunner of the Indian Navy’s bid to acquire 10 tube-launched AUVs.

Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) also ventured into the global UUV market. They expressed interest in exporting AUVs. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has contributed to the growth of the emerging ecosystem with its Underwater Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (ULUAV) and fish-shaped UUVs which are preprogrammed with algorithms and mission requirements.

Simultaneous International Developments

Internationally, the US, China, Germany, and France emerge as principal contributors to the UUV market. At the forefront of UUV advancement are firms such as Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, US-based Boeing, France’s Naval Group, and the UK’s Atlas Elektronik. In a noteworthy development, China is reported to have at least five operational designs, surpassing any other naval force.

The proliferation of unmanned underwater technologies is redefining the contours of naval warfare, laying the foundation for superior intelligence gathering and enhanced combat capabilities. A sustained uptick in investment across Western and Asian nations underscores the strategic relevance of these innovations.

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