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Indian defence firms announce submarine-launched UAV project

Worldwide interest in the development of ULUAVs has increased following the USN's acquisition of 120 Blackwing UAVs to be used by various submarine platforms. (AeroVironment)

Two private-sector Indian defence firms have announced that they will co-operate in the research and development of a submarine-launched unmanned aerial system (UAS).

According to an industry source, the UAS will comprise the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) plus a specialised underwater launch canister.

The project was unveiled during Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022 in New Delhi on 27 May by the Bangalore-based UAS developer NewSpace Research and Technologies (NRT) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Defence. The companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to co-develop the platform.

“Research for the project is starting immediately. The initial goal is to develop an underwater-launched UAV for the Indian Navy and for the global market,” the source told Janes .

“This is the first private-sector undertaking of this important realm of submarine military technologies in India, and therefore, there are challenges. We are starting with one specific UAS [development] in the days ahead,” the source added.

The research is being conducted independently of a project by India's state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is developing an underwater launched unmanned aerial vehicle (ULUAV) for the Indian Navy. The ULUAV is being funded through the Indian Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Technology Development Fund.

The ULUAV's requirements are to enhance the navy's operational capability by increasing maritime awareness and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environments.

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