India has joined a select group of eight countries having the capability to design and develop heavyweight anti-submarine torpedoes, with the induction of Varunastra, an indigenously built anti-submarine torpedo, in the Navy. Developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Naval Science and Technological Laboratory, the electric torpedo was formally handed over to the Navy in a move termed as a “game-changer” by the Naval chief. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the program is not only a boost to the country’s indigenous capability but also an opportunity for export.
Varunastra, weighing about 1.25 tons, can carry around 250 kg of explosives at a speed of 40 nautical miles an hour. It has almost 95 per cent indigenous content. The torpedo that would cost `10-12 crore per unit is capable of targeting quiet and stealthy submarines, both in deep and littoral water in intense countermeasure environments. The torpedo can be launched from Kolkata, Delhi, Teg, Talwar and Kamorta classes of ships.
Varunastra came up for discussion during Parrikar’s recent visit to Vietnam regarding its export to the Southeast Asian nation. “Successful induction of Varunastra into our Navy will be a game-changer in favor of the warships in sub-surface warfare. This landmark has put the Navy in the elite club of global navies that can boast of self-reliance in underwater sensors and underwater weapons,” said Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba.
On the delay in the project, DRDO chief S Christopher said the normal gestation period for the development of such a technology was 10 years and it took an extra year as there were many issues since it was being undertaken for the first time. From the availability of ships and submarines for testing to numerous aspects of technology, he listed several reasons that delayed the project. Parrikar urged the DRDO not to have a hands-off approach now that they have developed the torpedo, and handed over the technology to Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for production.
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