Defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Thursday said multi-role unmanned surface vessels (USV) can offer an interim solution to the Navy’s shortage of minesweepers. The GRSE has signed a MoU with Elbit Systems of Israel to manufacture USVs for the Navy, GRSE Chairman cum Managing Director Rear Admiral V K Saxena said here.
The vessels are capable of detecting and neutralising naval mines, he told newspersons.
To a question on whether the USVs could be an answer to the Navy’s acute shortage of minesweepers, Saxena said, “These can be effective in the interim, these are quick solutions.”
The Navy has a requirement of 12 minesweepers to guard naval installations, ports and sea lanes across the vast eastern and western seaboards but has only two of these, its Assistant Chief of Material, Rear Admiral Rajaram Swaminathan, had said here on September 30.
Saxena said the USVs were cheaper as compared to minesweeper ships, which cost around Rs 2,500 crore, and could be built faster than a ship.
“In our estimate, we expect around 12 to 14 months for building the first lot, and the time will come down for the next lots,” he said.
Warship manufacturer GRSE has responded to a ‘request for information’ from the Navy with regard to manufacturing of multi-role unmanned surface vessels, he said.
The GRSE CMD said the PSU was now waiting for a ‘request for proposal’ from the Ministry of Defence.
“The multi-role anti-submarine warfare boats are only 12 metres in length and can be carried on motherships and can be launched from these,” Saxena told.
He said the USVs could be used in anti-mine operations and electronic warfare.
“The vessels have a 50 km range and endurance of up to four days,” Saxena said.
The vessels will have around 60 per cent indigenous components, he said.
“The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with Elbit Systems of Israel during the Defence Expo in April this year,” Saxena added.
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