In a game-changer boost for the Indian Navy, Indigenously-built heavyweight anti-submarine torpedo Varunastra, first showcased on the Republic Day this year, has been successfully inducted in the Indian Navy.
Developed by DRDO’s Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), Varunastra was today formally handed over to Indian Navy and the induction is set to be a game-changer boost for it.
Varunastra’s induction makes Indian one of the only eight countries to have the capability to design and build such a system.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the programme is not only a boost to country’s indigenous capability but also an opportunity for export to other countries.
Varunastra is capable of targeting quiet and stealthy submarines, both in deep and littoral waters in intense counter-measure environment.
“Successful induction of Varunastra into our navy will be a game-changer in favour of the warships in the sub-surface warfare. This landmark has put navy in elite club of navies across the globe that can boast of self-reliance in under water sensors and under water weapons,” Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said.
The torpedo weighs around 1.25 tonnes carrying about 250 kg of explosives at a speed of around 40 nautical miles an hour. Its sale was one of the issues that came up for discussion during Parrikar’s recent visit to Vietnam, said sources.
Varunastra costs about Rs 10-12 crore per unit and has almost 95 per cent indigenous content.
Lanba, however, rued that the development of this torpedo had “indeed being long”. “We need to work towards a reasonable time-frame from concept to realisation to address our capability gap in time,” he said.
DRDO chief S Christopher said the normal gestation period for development of such a technology was 10 years and they took a year extra as there were many issues since it was being done for the first time.
From availability of ships and submarines for testing to numerous aspects of technology, he listed a number of reasons that delayed the project.
Parrikar directed the DRDO not to have a hands-off approach now that they have developed the torpedo, and handed over the technology to BDL for production.
“You cannot be a hospital where a child is born. You will have to stay along at least till the child is able to stand up and run around,” Parrikar said as he suggested placing a small DRDO team with state-run BDL for a limited period. He rued that the light-weight torpedos did not come at par with the quality expectation of the navy.
Parrikar also said that DRDO should also rope in a private company for future projects so that there is a good competition.