India’s underwater weaponry is set to get more firepower with the Navy deciding to induct the indigenously developed heavyweight torpedo “Varunastra” into its arsenal. This will put India in a group of only eight countries that have the capability to manufacture heavyweight torpedoes.The weapon has been developed by the Naval Science and Technology Laboratory (NTSL), Visakhapatnam.
Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) in Hyderabad has signed a contract worth Rs 1,187 crore to manufacture the torpedoes to arm both warships and submarines. BDL said on Thursday manufacturing would take place at its Visakhapatnam unit in collaboration with DRDO. A contract for manufacture was signed by N P Diwakar, director (technical), BDL, and Nidhi Chhibber, joint secretary and acquisition manager (maritime and systems), ministry of defence, in New Delhi on Tuesday.
“The heavyweight torpedo, or Varunastra, is a ship-launched, electrically-propelled underwater weapon equipped with one of the most advanced automatic and remote-controlled guidance systems. The weapon system uses its own intelligence in tracing the target,” BDL said in an official note on Thursday. Varunastra is considered to be 95% indigenous. BDL, which was involved in the production of the torpedo, had earlier delivered it to the Indian Navy in 2016 which evaluated it. Subsequently, a decision was taken to order production.
Varunastra can hit stealth submarines underwater. The ship-launched missiles can also be launched from ashore. It is seven to eight metres long, weighs 1,500 kg and has a diameter of 533 mm. The anti-submarine electric torpedo when fired can travel at 40 knots, or 74 kmph. The operational range is 40 km and it can carry a warhead weighing 250 kg. According to DRDO, it can be launched from ships and submarines.
India’s intends also to sell the heavyweight torpedo to friendly nations.