New Delhi: DCNS, the innovative European player in naval defence, is working on submarine-launched anti- aircraft missiles as well as counter-measures against torpedos, unmanned underwater vehicles and attack missiles.
DCNS Managing Director for India Bernard Buissson told India Strategic defence magazine (www.indiastrategic.in) that "counter-measures against torpedoes, unmanned underwater vehicles and attack missiles will be a significant part of future submarines effectiveness and lethality" and that his company invests about 10 percent of its turnover in R&D.
Submarines have the capability to fire cruise missiles but this is the first time perhaps that a company has disclosed development effort of an anti-aircraft missile. DCNS has tied with France-based European missile maker MBDA to develop an anti-aircraft missile for submarines.
Significantly, both the DCNS and MBDA are doing good business with India, with DCNS currently building the Indian Navy's six Project-75 Scorpene submarinres and MBDA working on various missiles for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force. DCNS is also set to compete in the next line of six P-75I submarines with air independent prolusion (AIP) for which an RfP is around the corner.
MBDA is working with India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to develop a short-range surface to air missile (SRSAM) as per an official agreement between India and France. Official sources told India Strategic that details of a contract on development, production and service support are being worked out.
Buisson said that anti-submarine warfare (ASW) was becoming a harsher reality with the insertion of ever newer net-centric and precision weapons. The threats virtually offered no time to react and accordingly, "future submarine technologies will focus on platform guidance, electronic warfare and missilie performance, much faster data fusion and correlation of better and accurate threat assessment." All this required "automated calibrated response with longer range and much more accurate attack missile," he observed.
As for the submarine-launched anti-aircraft missile, unveiled at the recent Euronaval in Paris, it was stated that it would be confirgured in two versions - to be fired from a mast-mounted system or through an unmanned undersea vehicle. The mast-mounted system, designed for incorporation into the fin of a submarine, will consist of a retractable mast to fire several Mistral short-range missiles while the self-defence system with an undersea vehicle (UUV) would shoot a Mica medium-range missile. The UUV itself would be deployed from a torpedo tube.
DCNS has also unveiled a new concept small submarine, designated SMX 26, for operations in very shallow waters not usually accessible for conventional submarine operations. Company sources said that newer technologies could be available to India depending upon the requirements and government-to-government agreements.
Buisson praised Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) for finishing all the hulls of the six submarines by 2012-end, pointing out "it has manufactured the hulls from the First Of Class (first submarine) onward without any on the job training in our facilities in France as is usually the case". The delivery of the submarines, initially delayed, was now on schedule as worked out between DCNS, MDL and the Indian Navy, he said.