Air Independent Propulsion System Current Affairs - 2020
The Air Independent Propulsion system enhances the submerged endurance of the submarines several times. As compared to other technologies fuel cell AIP has merits in performance. DRDO is now set to build fuel-cell based AIP system for Indian Naval Submarines.
Air Independent Propulsion
AIP is a technology that allows the non-nuclear submarines to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen. Nuclear submarines constantly pump coolant generating some amount of noise. On the other hand, non-nuclear battery operated or AIP submarines are silent.
The fuel cell air independent propulsion converts chemical energy from fuel cell into electricity through chemical reaction of positively charged hydrogen ions with oxygen or other oxidizing agent.
Role of AIP
A modern Diesel-Electric submarines remain submerged for 4 to 5 days. They have to come to periscope level to carryout an activity called “snorkeling”. This is done to recharge their batteries. The AIP increases their underwater endurance and allows them to stay underwater for weeks together.
Tags: Air Independent Propulsion System • Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) • Indian Navy • Indian Navy Warships • Nuclear Submarines
The Indian Navy launched fourth Stealth Scorpene-Class submarine ‘INS Vela’ at state owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai, Maharashtra. This is fourth submarine that was launched by MDL after it entered into contract with French collaborator Ms Naval Group (earlier known as DCNS) for construction and transfer of technology for six Scorpene class submarines under Project 75.
- It is named ‘Vela’ after erstwhile ‘INS Vela’ (second batch of Foxtrot class submarines taken by India from erstwhile USSR) which was first commissioned in Indian Naval service on 31 August 1973 and continued in service for 37 years. It was India’s oldest submarine when it was decommissioned on 25 June 2010.
Key Features of INS Vela
- It is equipped with modern machinery and technology to guard seas but will undergo several tests by Indian Navy before getting commissioned in defence fleet.
- It is a diesel-electric attack submarine of Kalvari-class.
- State-of-the-art attacking capability: it can attack using torpedoes and tube launch anti-ship missiles, whilst on surface or underwater.
- Stealth: it has superior stealth which gives it invulnerability and makes more difficult for enemy to detect it.
- Multifarious types of missions: It can undertake missions such as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, area surveillance, intelligence gathering, mine laying etc. and has ability to launch crippling attack on enemy using precision guided weapon.
- Operability: It can operate in all theatres, including tropics.
- Under it, MDL will manufacture six Scorpene class submarines (which are next generation diesel submarines) for Indian Navy under technology transfer from Naval Group of France ($3.75 billion contract signed in 2005). The induction of all submarines is expected to be completed by 2020.
- Under it, submarines are being built using modular approach in which different sections are built separately and later assembled on pontoons (or floats). They are fitted with indigenously developed Air Independent Propulsion System (AIP) technology by DRDO for extended endurance.
MDL was first shipyard in India to build submarines back in 1992, when dock built INS Shalki.
NOTE: INS Kalvari, the first submarine in Scorpene class, has already been commissioned, while others are at adavance level of trial and test. The third in Scorpene series INS Karanj was launched in January 2019. The fifth Scorpene-class submarine INS Vagir and sixth Scorpene-class submarine INS Vagsheer are in advanced stages of manufacturing on the assembly line and will be launched soon.