The fuel cell-based AIP being developed is unique as hydrogen is generated onboard
The indigenous Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system for submarines under development has crossed an important milestone in performance and has now “reached the stage of maturity for fitment into target vessels”, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said on Tuesday.
“DRDO has achieved an important milestone in the development of AIP system by proving the land-based prototype on March 8. The plant was operated in endurance mode and max power mode as per the user requirements,” a statement said.
An AIP module acts as a force multiplier effect as it enables conventional submarines to remain submerged for longer duration thereby increasing their endurance and reducing chances of detection.
While there are different types of AIP systems being pursued internationally, the DRDO said that the fuel cell-based AIP being developed is unique as hydrogen is generated onboard. “Fuel cell-based AIP has merits in performance compared to other technologies,” the statement stated.
The system is being developed by the Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) of the DRDO with the support of industry partners L&T and Thermax.
The Navy had planned to install AIP modules on the last two of the six Scorpenes as they rolled out of the production line but it could not be realised due to developmental delays. The Navy has drawn up plans to install them on all Scorpene submarines as they go for their first refit.