Country's premier weapon maker working on protective gear for sonars on naval warships in a bid to substitute costly imports from UK, US

Sciemtists at the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are working on a technology that will give a boost to indigenisation of the country's weapon systems and also save the Indian Navy costly imports. 

Called Glass Fibre Composite Naval Sonar Dome, the technology involves making a shield to protect the sonar on a warship from constant collision with water.

Smooth sailing: After development of the technology, the new system
may be installed on warships that are being constructed in Mumbai's
Mazgaon Docks and shipyards in Kochi, Kolkata and Goa.
Representation Pic

DRDO scientists said the sonars located on the bow of a ship are susceptible to damage because of the perennial see-saw movement while sailing at high speeds. The shields for these sonars require complex engineering so as not to reduce the intensity of the sonar waves and compromise reliability.

When fully developed, the technology might be installed on warships being constructed in Mumbai's Mazgaon Docks and shipyards in Kochi, Kolkata and Goa.

Today, only the US and UK possess the technical know-how to make the shields.

Dr S Guruprasad, director of the DRDO's Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) laboratory at Dighi, said the development of the system started last year following a request from the Indian Navy.

Officials from the Naval Design Bureau are reportedly part of a technical committee overseeing the developments.

Guruprasad was talking on the sidelines of a two-day national conference on composite materials with several academia and industry players participating in the exchange. The event, ISAMPE National Conference on Composites (INCCOM 10), was organised by the Pune chapter of the Indian Society for Advancement of Materials and Process Engineering.

Scientists said that the technology was still being tested and would undergo several phases, including procurement of raw material and final manufacturing. The first prototype is scheduled to be ready for testing by October next year.

Dr Makrand Joshi, a senior scientist, said the in-house technology would reduce 50 per cent of the costs incurred on importing the system. UK-based TODS and US-based Goodrich are the only firms possessing the technology.

In the making
The Mazgaon Docks in Mumbai recently finished construction of the Project 17 Class stealth frigates INS Shivalik and INS Satpura. A third warship, INS Sahyadri, is still under construction. The shipyard has also finished construction of the Project 15A 'Kolkata class' stealth destroyer INS Kochi recently. The other two warships in the class are under construction.