In a deal signed earlier this year, the French Naval Group and India’s DRDO agreed to integrate the Indian Fuel Cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system onto INS Kalvari, the first Scorpène-class submarine. The AIP system was developed by the Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL). The integration is scheduled to take place from mid-2024 onwards, during the submarine’s major refit.

According to information obtained by idrw, it has been confirmed that the Kalvari submarine will be the first to undergo retrofitting of the AIP system into its existing hull. This process will involve inserting an additional hull section, which will take around two years to complete. The retrofitting will require cutting the rear hull of the submarine and adding the AIP section to it. As a result, the submarine’s length will increase, and further trials will be necessary, along with operational testing of the AIP system.

As AIP systems are not modular or plug-and-play, integrating them requires Original Equipment Manufacturers to undertake significant work. In this instance, the Naval Group must study the impact of adding an AIP section into the hull of the submarine, specifically its effect on manoeuvrability, speed-power performance, and weight distribution.

After obtaining the Transfer of Technology (ToT) and conducting multiple levels of demonstration to ensure seamless integration, Larsen & Toubro and Thermax will manufacture the Fuel Cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) systems developed by NMRL. Meanwhile, the Navy plans to procure three follow-ups Kalvari submarines that will have an AIP section incorporated into their hulls during the manufacturing process, thus saving both time and money.

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