New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has started the process of equipping its warships with active towed array sonar (ATAS) systems, which are essential for detecting enemy submarines. The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) under the chairmanship of Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has cleared a proposal for the procurement of nine ATAS systems. Presently, Indian warships are using bow-mounted sonar or hull mounted sonar systems, which are considered less effective.
"The DAC approved a $70 million proposal to procure nine active towed array sonar systems for frontline warships. This will help in submarine detection capabilities," an official who wished to remain anonymous told Sputnik.
"The active towed array sonar [system] is vital for the Indian Navy, as most of the warships do not possess capabilities to detect submarines in the Arabian Sea, where the warm, shallow waters confound conventional hull-mounted sonars," a senior navy official told Sputnik.
The ATAS system is towed behind a submarine or ship on a cable that extends deep below the surface and has no trouble in detecting sonar waves, as in the case of conventional sonar systems due to the difference in temperature at the surface and deep below the surface where submarines usually lurk.
As the presence of Chinese submarines in India's backyard will certainly increase in the coming years, it is crucial for the Indian Navy to equip all its warships with effective sonar systems. Most of India's warships are not equipped with the ATAS system, as the country had stalled the import of these devices in the mid-1990s after the state-owned DRDO promised to provide similar systems locally manufactured. However, as the DRDO has failed to develop the system even after 20 years, the Indian government in 2014 decided to take the import route.