DRDO Chief SV Kamat Reviews AIP System Plans

Defence Industry

New Delhi: Secretary of DD R&D and Chairman of DRDO, SV Kamat along with Y Sreenivas Rao, DS & DG (NS&M), conducted a comprehensive review of projects at the Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) in Ambernath on October 30, 2023.

The inspection included a focus on the ‘Fuel Cell-Based Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP) for Indian Naval Submarines’. The progress of the AIP program and other ongoing projects were detailed by the respective project teams, as stated by DRDO in its statement. Presentations by L&T and R&DE (E) covered various aspects of AIP. Furthermore, NMRL outlined their future research plans, and Kamat visited the Land-based Prototype (LBP) site for AIP ‘de-risking’ trials.

SV Kamat commended NMRL’s contributions to the Indian Navy and stressed the importance of advancing naval materials, technologies, commonly referred to as niche tech. This update was shared in the DRDO newsletter dated November 1, 2023.

The Ministry of Defence had previously announced that the land-based prototype of the AIP was successfully tested by NMRL on March 8, 2021. This tech is slated to augment India’s current and future diesel-electric submarine fleet endurance to remain submerged. The statement said that the AIP system, developed by NMRL, stands out for its feature of generating hydrogen onboard, setting it apart from other technologies currently available worldwide. The Mod further added that now the AIP technology has reached a level of ‘maturity’ for integration into target vessels.

A recent agreement between NMRL and Naval Group France, signed on January 23, 2023, confirmed that the indigenous AIP system will be integrated into the Kalvari class submarines. This ‘strategic partnership’, as per the Mod, will aim to certify the AIP design for integration, with Naval Group France overseeing the process.

Chairman & CEO at Naval Group France, Pierre Eric Pommellet, expressed pride in cooperating with Indian stakeholders for this milestone, aligning with the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ policy. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh commended DRDO, the Indian Navy, and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited for pushing forward the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative in the underwater domain. Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO, Samir V Kamat, too was present when the agreement was signed and also extended congratulations to NMRL, the Indian Navy, MDL, and Naval Group France for this ‘strategic partnership’.