For instance, the Navy will test its first ocean-going autonomous boat with ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) and other capabilities between Mumbai and Goa around November.
Developed by the Navy’s Weapons and Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), the maiden sea trial of the 15-metre long boat, capable of navigating through maritime traffic, will take place after the monsoons, sources told TOI.
This is in keeping with the ‘Integrated Unmanned Roadmap’ prepared by the Navy for induction of autonomous aerial, surface and underwater platforms of various sizes and types over the next 10 years. Countries like the US and China have for long been experimenting with a wide array of long-endurance unmanned surface and underwater vessels — which are much cheaper than manned warships and submarines — that can revolutionise warfare like hypersonic or directed-energy weapons.
The Indian Navy will also begin testing an indigenous new-generation combat management system (CMS), which serves as the “nerve centre” on board a warship as it integrates all sensors such as radars, sonar and electronic warfare systems with weapons like missiles, rockets, torpedoes and guns as well as “talks” to other platforms through data links, from August onwards.
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All warships that get commissioned from 2024 to 2029 will be equipped with this new CMS developed by WESEE, which enables enhanced user-interface and faster reaction-time with inbuilt decision-support tools.
“The CMS 24-29 can do faster threat assessment with inbuilt-AI algorithms and gives the warship’s captain suggestions on which particular weapon should be used in a particular situation. It can also talk to the existing CMS on board warships,” the source said. The collaboration between WESEE and production agency BEL has also seen the development of three variants of software-defined radios (SDRs) with top-level encryption, which are now progressively replacing older VHF radio sets with limited bandwidth on board all warships, submarines and aircraft. While the SDR-NC (naval communications) has already been deployed on all warships, the installation of SDR-Tactical is currently underway. “Trials of the SDR-FA (fighter aircraft) will be completed within a year. The Navy is the first service to develop and deploy such indigenous SDRs, which are multimedia capable and can send data over much longer ranges,” the source said.
WESEE is also developing the new-generation Data Link-II system, the earlier version of which is deployed on all warships, submarines, aircraft and shore establishments across the Navy to bolster network-centric operations. “This ambitious project aims to incorporate upgraded features such as integrated platform time synchronisation, a modular and scalable open architecture equipped with a multi-domain gateway, enhanced throughout with hot redundancy, and fault tolerance.”