The Ministry of Defence has given clearance to the DRDO to develop autonomous underwater drones that can be used for surveillance and strike capabilities to be deployed in the Indian Ocean Region.
For the time being, Indian Navy is likely to opt for foreign origin autonomous underwater vehicles till the Indigenous ones are ready for induction. Mazagaon Dockyard Limited recently issued an Expression of Interest to global firms for collaboration in the Design, Development, and Construction of aa 40 tons Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) that could be used for mine countermeasures, anti submarine warfare, anti surface warfare, electronic warfare, and strike missions.
Recently, Larsen & Toubro also signed a memorandum of understanding with Bengaluru based New Space Research & Technologies to develop and build submarine launched UAVs, under the DRDO’s Technology Development Fund initiative.
Indian developed underwater drones for surveillance purposes are already under testing and are likely to be inducted after the conclusion of their trials. Till now, Navy has used underwater drones only for recording ambient noises, searching for practice torpedoes, and helping civilian agencies in keeping an eye on underwater pipelines and internet cables.