Navy's sonar project falls flat; draws flak from CAG

Warning system has been installed in two subs in 10 yrs

Indigenous sonar has been installed in only two operational submarines in the last 10 years, despite the manufacturer, the Bharat Electronics Ltd, agreeing to complete the job by 2007.

Developed by the Naval Physical and Oceanography Laboratory (NPOL), Kochi, the USHUS sonar can detect both ships and submarines from a few kilometers. The Defence Research and Development Organisation – the parent body of NPOL – had claimed that it is one of the best in the world.

The technology for which NOPL received a DRDO award from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was transferred to BEL, with whom the Defence Ministry had inked a Rs 167 crore contract to supply and commission the new age sonars for four Kilo class submarines between March 2003 and 2007.

Till date, the sonar has been installed in only three submarines, of which two have completed sea-acceptance trial.

Moreover, the Navy did not derive any tangible benefit from the Rs 167.64 crore investment because much of the sonars’ technical life has already expired, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said in its report tabled in Parliament on Thursday.
While the CAG did not identify the submarine or the sonar in its report, sources told Deccan Herald that the audit watchdog had reviewed the USHUS project.

The sonar was installed in two submarines in 2005, of which one completed sea trial in January 2011.

Delay in fitting

In 2008, it was installed in the third submarine that completed the trial in December 2011. The instrument has not yet been fitted in the fourth submarine.

At present, the Navy has 11 operational submarines, of which four to five are docked at shipyards at any given point of time for maintenance.

The first batch of new submarines (Project-75) has been delayed by three years.
The first Scorpene submarine, being manufactured at the Mazagaon Dock Ltd in Mumbai, will be ready by 2015 and the entire fleet of six submarines should be inducted by 2018.

The future of the second assembly line (Project-75I) hangs in balance. After receiving initial approval from the Defence Ministry in 2010, P-75I is stuck due to an improvisation made by the Navy in the original proposal, sources said.

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