Indian Navy Communication System to be Upgraded, to Test its First Unmanned Surface Vessel in November

Indian Navy

New Delhi: The Indian Navy will be upgrading its communication system to enable smooth communication at sea. An upgraded India-made “software-defined radio” will connect all warships. In addition, Indian Navy is ready with a new combat management system and an unmanned boat which will undergo trials from Mumbai to Goa at the end of the monsoon season.

These projects were tasked to the Weapons and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) — an organisation that completes 45 years of formation on July 26. The combat management system (CMS) serves as the nerve centre of warships. It integrates all sensors, radars and electronic warfare suite with weapons on board. Navy warships, including aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, have an indigenous CMS. The WESEE has come up with an upgraded CMS which will be functional in all warships to be commissioned between 2024 and 2029.

Conceptualised for maritime intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance, the first indigenously-developed, ocean-going multirole unmanned surface vessel (USV) is set for the trials in November. According to Navy sources, the boat would be 15-metres long and would have a maximum speed of more than 30 knots. It will function autonomously with a “static and dynamic” obstacle collision avoidance system. The boat was jointly designed and developed by the Weapon and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and Bharat Electronic Ltd (BEL), along with Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL).

“The boat will be capable of navigating autonomously in dense maritime environments. It operates on a computer-based software algorithm. The ship will be equipped with an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven situational awareness,” sources added.

The USV will be equipped with various types of sensors such as LiDAR, Radar, electro-optic cameras, AIS, and GPS. The boat has two 500 bhp diesel engines along with waterjet propulsion. The engine, though manufactured abroad has been procured through an Indian vendor. There would be a wireless link to the remote-control station for man-in-the-loop operations, thus it can operate without a human on board.

The USV trial will help Indian Navy build up capability first and later with tweaks these autonomous vessels can be used for offensive role depending on situations.