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Fuel Cell-based AIP system to be fitted in INS Kalvari soon

New Delhi: Giving a major boost to the government’s ‘self-reliance’ (aatmanirbharta) initiative, the Fuel Cell-based Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system of DRDO’s Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) is soon be fitted onboard INS Kalvari, the defence ministry announced on Tuesday.

The announcement comes following an agreement signed between senior officials of NMRL and Naval Group France in Mumbai on Monday to extend cooperation to enter into the detailed design phase for integrating indigenous AIP in the Kalvari class submarines. As part of the agreement, Naval Group France will certify the AIP design for integration in the submarines.

The AIP has a force multiplier effect on the lethality of a diesel-electric submarine as it enhances the submerged endurance by several folds. It has merits in performance compared to other technologies and is unique as the hydrogen is generated onboard.

“This technology has been successfully developed by NMRL with the support of the country’s industry partners and now reached the stage of maturity for industrialisation,” a communique mentioned. “It is worth mentioning that the land-based prototype of the NMRL’s AIP has been tested successfully. This new endeavour will be a significant step towards the detailed design certification of the energy module, which will be performed by NMRL along with Indian industry and design of the platforms impacted by the integration of the indigenous AIP inside the Indian submarine by Naval Group,” the defence ministry said.

These actions will seamlessly lead the way to the start of localisation and industrialization of AIP including the hull fabrication by the Indian industry for future fitment on-board the submarines. The Chairman and CEO at Naval Group France, Pierre Eric Pommellet asserted that they are proud to cooperate with Indian stakeholders to safely integrate the AIP in the Kalvari class submarines, which Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited has built.

This is a natural extension of strategic bilateral cooperation shared between India and France in the field of underwater defence and deterrence and in line with the Naval Group’s continued commitment towards the government’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ policy.

Whereas, the Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh complimented DRDO, Indian Navy and MDL for taking the self-reliance initiative forward in the underwater domain. Secretary of Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO, Samir V Kamat also congratulated NMRL, Indian Navy, MDL and Naval Group France for this strategic partnership.

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