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The Indian Navy is making significant strides in modernizing its fleet of submarines by adopting advanced lithium-ion battery technology. The Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL) has taken the lead in developing lithium-ion batteries compatible with submarines, a major upgrade from the existing lead-acid batteries.

NSTL recently called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from Indian battery manufacturers with the capability and willingness to absorb technology transfer and engage in the production, certification, and supply of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery systems based on High Power Lithium-ion Battery Technology (HPLBT). The goal is to manufacture, test, and evaluate 25 Ah Li-ion cells to ensure their safe operation in defence applications.

The move toward lithium-ion battery technology in submarines aligns with global trends. Notably, Japanese Soryu class submarines and South Korean KSS III Batch 2 submarines already employ lithium-ion battery technology, demonstrating its effectiveness and superiority.

The initial beneficiaries of this technological upgrade will likely be the three upcoming Kalvari class submarines, which the Indian Navy intends to order from the state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL). These submarines will follow in the footsteps of the previous six Kalvari class submarines, also manufactured by MDL.

Furthermore, the Indian Navy has been actively exploring the integration of Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems into the Kalvari class submarines. This addition, coupled with the adoption of lithium-ion batteries, promises to enhance the submarines’ operational capabilities and endurance.

In a noteworthy development last year, the Indian Navy initiated efforts to identify local partners for the development of battery packs suitable for the existing Kalvari class submarines. These battery packs will complement the AIP system developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

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