SMART torpedo system : why it is ‘game changer’ in anti-submarine warfare

Defence experts say the SMART torpedo system will change anti-submarine warfare tactics to a large extent, if not completely.

India successfully flight-tested its indigenously developed SMART torpedo system Monday, with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) hailing it as a “game changer” in anti-submarine warfare.

According to a defence ministry statement, the Supersonic Missile Assisted Release of Torpedo or SMART was successfully tested from the Wheeler Island off the coast of Odisha. It added that all the mission objectives were perfectly met, which included the missile flight upto range and altitude, separation of the nose cone, release of torpedo as well as the deployment of Velocity Reduction Mechanism (VRM).

The test reportedly encompasses hybrid technology that helps to upgrade the present system and also increase the striking range.

A number of DRDO laboratories including DRDL, RCI Hyderabad, ADRDE Agra, NSTL Visakhapatnam have developed the technologies required for SMART.

ThePrint explains why the DRDO is calling it a ‘game changer’ in anti-submarine warfare and how it will significantly bolster the country’s maritime strategic capabilities.

What is SMART?

SMART is a missile-assisted release of lightweight Anti-Submarine Torpedo System for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) operations far beyond torpedo range.

It takes off like a regular supersonic missile when launched from a warship or a truck-based coastal battery.

Most of its flight in the air is covered at lower altitudes with two-way data link from the warship or an airborne submarine target detection system.

It is also provided the exact location of the hostile submarine to correct its flight path midway.

When it approaches close to a submerged submarine, the missile would eject the torpedo system into the water and the torpedo will start moving towards its target to hit the submarine.

According to defence writer Sameer Joshi, a former Indian Air Force pilot, the SMART system combines a solid fuel rocket with a lightweight torpedo (LWT) as its warhead.

“It decelerates and releases the torpedo over the designated target area, after which the torpedo operates normally and uses homing guidance to seek out enemy submarines,” he explained, while speaking to ThePrint.

The SMART system is being hailed as a game-changer | Photo: Sameer Joshi
The SMART system is being hailed as a game-changer | Photo: Sameer Joshi

Why is SMART torpedo system a ‘game changer’?

A senior Navy officer told ThePrint that the system will change anti-submarine warfare tactics to a large extent, if not completely.

“One of the most potent threats to surface ships is an undetected submarine and now with the SMART, we have removed the surface ship from the weapon danger zone of a submarine.”

The officer said the technology of SMART provides security of standoff ranges when prosecuting a submarine threat. “While the act of detecting submarines will still pose a challenge, but once detected, the SMART would be an unbridled threat to the submarine.”

Joshi said the SMART will give Indian warships and shore-based units a crucial standoff tool in the face of growing submarine threat from adversaries like China and Pakistan.

With its maximum range of 650 km, a first for such a class of weapon in the world, the DRDO has handed the Indian Navy a significant leap in engagement capabilities, he said.

“The Indian Navy theoretically now has a quick response measure to effectively saturate the Gwadar and Karachi ports at will, as well as blockade the Malacca strait at the first hint of Chinese submarines spotted by Indian satellites, MR aircraft, ships and other ISR assets,” Joshi said.

“It would only be logical to evolve the SMART to carry a heavy weight torpedo (HWT) towards interception of surface vessels in future. This will provide the navy with a potential capability to target enemy vessels threatening the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the Indian Ocean Region,” he said.

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