The Indian Navy is set to enhance its capabilities for special undersea operations by acquiring domestically manufactured swimmer delivery vehicles, also referred to as underwater chariots or midget submarines.
According to a report in The Indian Express, these chariots, powered by lithium-ion batteries and capable of carrying a crew of at least six, are part of the Navy's modernisation efforts to bolster its Marine Commandos (MARCOS).
Plans include procuring several dozen chariots for the Navy after the successful clearance of the initial prototype.
The dimensions of these delivery vehicles are designed to accommodate larger cylinders, allowing divers to extend their underwater stay and augment the overall operational range in shallow waters.
Additionally, the chariots' size enables the carriage of extra weapons for diverse operations.
The Navy is collaborating with the industry to design these vehicles, with the prototype set to be based on industry consultations.
Swimmer delivery vehicles, considered highly specialised platforms, are utilised by advanced navies globally.
These self-propelled vehicles can be launched from ships or submarines, serving various roles based on their size.
Originating from the Second World War, when crewed human torpedoes were referred to as chariots, these underwater vessels are crucial for shallow-water surveillance, coastal installation targeting, and operations in harbour areas.
While specific details about the swimmer delivery vehicles currently in use by the Indian Navy are limited, some sources suggest the past use of Italian-made chariots.
Around 2012, the Ministry of Defence had commissioned Hindustan Shipyard Limited to construct two submarines of this type.
These chariots will play a vital role in enabling marine commandos to access areas near adversaries' harbours that submarines may find challenging to reach due to shallow waters.
Bhuvan Krishna is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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