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Indian Navy’s Modernization for Undersea Operations


The Indian Navy aims to enhance the capabilities of its Marine Commandos (MARCOS) for special undersea operations through the acquisition of indigenously-made swimmer delivery vehicles, also referred to as underwater chariots and midget submarines.


GS III: Defence and Security Challenges

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Navy’s Acquisition Plans for Indigenous Undersea Chariots
  2. Marine Commandos (MARCOS)
  3. The Chariots in Naval Operations

Navy’s Acquisition Plans for Indigenous Undersea Chariots

Key Features:
  • Crew Capacity:
    • Undersea chariots designed to carry a crew of at least six members.
  • Power Source:
    • Propulsion powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries.
Operational Advantages:
  • Increased Size:
    • Larger size of delivery vehicles facilitates the transport of bigger cylinders by divers.
  • Extended Underwater Stay:
    • Longer operational durations underwater due to enhanced cylinder capacity.
  • Improved Operational Range:
    • Overall operational range in shallow waters extended.
Enhanced Capabilities:
  • Weapon Carriage:
    • Larger chariot dimensions allow for the carriage of additional weapons.
Indigenous Production:
  • Made in India:
    • Emphasis on indigenous manufacturing for undersea chariots.

Marine Commandos (MARCOS)

  • Special Operations Force:
    • Formed by the Indian Navy, MARCOS specializes in air, water, and land operations.
  • Establishment:
    • Founded in February 1987.
  • Alternate Name:
    • Also known as the Marine Commando Force (MCF).
Modeling After Elite Units:
  • Inspiration:
    • Modeled after the elite units such as the US Navy SEALs and the Royal Marines.
  • Diverse Operations:
    • Trained to conduct a variety of operations encompassing air, water, and land domains.
  • Specialized Roles:
    • Proficient in:
      • Maritime and amphibious warfare.
      • Counter-terrorism operations.
      • Unconventional warfare.
      • Rescue missions.
      • Reconnaissance.
      • Raids.
  • Swift Response:
    • Capable of a swift and stealthy response in denied territories.

The Chariots in Naval Operations

  • Specialized Platforms:
    • Chariots are highly specialized self-propelled vehicles used by advanced navies worldwide.
  • Launch Capability:
    • Launched from ships or submarines based on size and designated roles.
  • Historical Reference:
    • In World War II, manned human torpedoes were referred to as chariots.
  • Shallow-Water Operations:
    • Especially useful for naval operations in shallow waters.
  • Mission Range:
    • Suitable for various missions, including shallow-water surveillance and attacking coastal installations and adversary ships in harbors.
  • Access to Restricted Areas:
    • Enables marine commandos to access areas close to adversary harbors that submarines cannot reach due to shallow waters.
  • Transportation of Equipment:
    • Facilitates the transportation of weapons and equipment to operational areas.
Usage in India:
  • Limited Public Information:
    • Limited publicly available information on the swimmer delivery vehicles used by the Indian Navy.
  • Historical Use:
    • Some sources suggest the use of Italian-made chariots by the Navy for several years.
  • Indigenous Production:
    • In 2012, the Ministry of Defence directed Hindustan Shipyard Limited to build two submarines of this type.

-Source: Indian Express

February 2024