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India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is diving headfirst into underwater drone technology, partnering with Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt Ltd to develop first-of-its-kind Underwater Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (ULUAVs) for Indian Navy submarines.

These ULUAVs will be launched from submerged submarines, providing a crucial aerial vantage point for discreet surveillance missions. Imagine a submarine silently patrolling the depths, its crew gaining valuable intel on surface vessels and other targets thanks to the ULUAV’s “eyes in the sky.” This significantly extends the reach of a submarine, allowing it to monitor a wider area without compromising its stealth.

ULUAVs will have a range of 20km and an endurance of 1 hour that can be later recovered by the submarine crew from the surface once the submarine has surfaced.

The ULUAV acts as an aerial targeting node, complementing a submarine’s underwater sonar capabilities. Think of it as giving a submarine the ability to “see” what’s hidden above the waves. This is particularly valuable for detecting enemy surface ships that might otherwise remain invisible to sonar at a safe distance.

DRDO’s vision extends beyond just surveillance. Plans are underway to develop Loitering Munitions that can also be launched from submarines. These underwater drones, capable of carrying explosives, could potentially engage and eliminate smaller enemy vessels, further enhancing the offensive capabilities of Indian Navy submarines.

The ULUAV development program is funded by the Government of India, highlighting its commitment to modernizing the country’s defence infrastructure. The partnership with Sagar Defence Engineering, a private sector company, signifies India’s growing focus on leveraging domestic expertise for advanced military technology.

The development of ULUAVs and submarine-launched Loitering Munitions is a promising advancement for the Indian Navy. As this technology matures, it will be interesting to see how it impacts underwater warfare tactics and strengthens India’s maritime security posture.

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