The Indian Scenario - NPOL and Sonar

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The Eighties- APSOH and HUMVAD

        Till early eighties we were dependent on British make sonars for the underwater operation. In 1981, NPOL developed the first sonar APSOH (Advanced Panoramic Sonar Hull mounted) for fitment on warship. It was productionised by Bharat Electronics and was fitted onboard INS Himagiri. It was a great success. This and its variant HUMVAD (HUll Mounted and Variable Depth) were fitted in 10 warships. Each system costed about 3-5 crores then. With this development the indigenisation of ship sonar was achieved.

The Nineties - HUMSA

        With the excellent performance of APSOH sonar, Navy wanted technologically upgraded second generation of Frigate sonar. Navy placed order on BE Bangalore directly with NPOL providing the design support. This model of partnership ensured the commitment on both the Navy side and production side towards induction of developed systems. The product was christened as HUMSA (HUll mounted Sonar Advanced). NPOL developed the state of the art display and signal processing hardware and software with advanced algorithms put in place. The increased processing capabilities offered by the microprocessors and signal processors available at that time, made the system quite advanced.

        BE has produced more than 14 systems to-date since 1998 and a few more are on demand. The three Talwar class Frigates India purchased from Russia in 2003-04 were also fitted with HUMSA sonar only. This system has been proving its performance in all platforms and its role has been well appreciated by the Navy.

For the New decade of 2000 – HUMSA NG

        In the year 2004, when navy decided on its capability build up plan, there was requirement to upgrade HUMSA design with current technology and architecture. The Mazagon Docks placed order with BE for 10 systems. NPOL and BE entered into an MOU for the development. The harbour and sea trials of the first system on each class of ships are joint responsibility of NPOL and BE. Naval Headquarters is involved in the very beginning closely monitoring the development.

        This effective association of NPOL ( the designer) – Bharat Electronics (the manufacturer) – Indian Navy (the User) is contributing remarkably towards bringing down the lead time for realization of advanced sonar systems for the Indian Navy.

The significance of the function

        NPOL had committed that it will complete the development of its part HUMSA NG (Version - 1) by June 30th 2008 and hand over to BE so that the system can be cleared for installation in July 2008. To mark the timely completion of this task, a copy of the software and documentation CD was handed over by Sri MM Pallam Raju, RRM to CMD of BE from NPOL on 2nd July 2008.

Report for the Function

        “Under the changed economic scenario and fast changing technologies, there is a need to tap the growth of industries outside-be it in the private sector or the public sector effectively to reduce system development time.  To reduce this time of delivery, need to transfer technologies to the industrial partners very effectively.  Naval Physical & Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), Kochi  has a three decades aid history of successful partnership with M/s Bharat Electronics, Bangalore.  This relationship is a model for all other industrial partnerships.  Maybe, the industry also has to invest same funds in matured sub-technologies, even before Navy places order on them, so that the time at gestation for the first production system can be minimised”. Opined Shri MM Pallam Raju after handing over the documents symbolically to mark the completion of development of HUMSA-NG and its transfer of technology developed at NPOL (DRDO) to Shri VVR Sastry, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Electronics, Bangalore. 

Shri VVR Sastry, recalled the long three decades of partnership relations with NPOL in furthering the indigenous development of underwater technology for Indian Navy and this model should be emulated by other research organisations. 

“As the innovation made in the field of SONARs is of world class in nature, it is time to look for a global market for such products” said Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, Distinguished Scientist, Chief Controller R&D (NS & ACE), DRDO, while speaking on this occasion.  Earlier Shri S Anantha Narayanan, Director, NPOL welcomed.  Shri SP Pillai the former Senior Scientist, who gave significant contributions in the sonar development programme was honoured by the Minister.  Dr RR Rao, Director (Management) gave vote of thanks. 

The Minister visited various project sites and facilities at NPOL and also interacted with the young scientists.

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