SOURCE: MAHESH SHETTI / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
After Australia canceled the purchase of 12 Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A conventional diesel submarines with France, Sulking France already has dropped hints of extending their cooperation with India on its nuclear attack submarine program, and India should take this as an opportunity and engage with France in cooperation in the development of next-generation pumpjet propulsion technology, which is often considered as the Holy grail in the propulsion technology for the nuclear attack submarine programs.
Pumpjet propulsions are a better option for high speeds and are not so efficient at low speeds than a sophisticated propeller seen in all submarines, but for nuclear attack submarines that often rely on speed and stealth in going behind the enemy lines for their missions, Pumpjet propulsions have come has boon in significantly reducing the level of radiated noise and avoid cavitation.
Since Pumpjet propulsions need to be tuned to the hull of the submarine, it becomes of utmost importance for India to get France on board India’s Six next-generation nuclear attack submarine programs at an early stage and also their technical consultancy in the development of Pumpjet propulsions that is tailored made for Indian designed nuclear attack submarine.
Well-designed Pumpjet propulsion will be considerably quieter than an equivalent propeller even though they’re much heavier than a conventional propeller, but they have a smaller diameter that smooth out the water flow that is coming off the back of a submarine before the flow hits the moving rotor and there’s less unsteady flow, and thus less noise.
A 6000-tonne class ship equipped with a pump jet is a more sensible option due to many advantages over disadvantages. Pumpjet propulsion ain’t cheap and requires investment heavily in hydrodynamics and hydro acoustics programs over decades before one can develop one and it will be ideal that India first acquires this technology from France and then work on its local alternatives for the 13000-tonne S5 Class nuclear-powered ballistic missile (SSBN) that will come next after S4 and S4* ships are launched.
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