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SMART – India's DRDO Becomes World Leader with Unique Weapon System

© Photo : TwitterSMART – India's DRDO Becomes World Leader with Unique Weapon System
SMART – India's DRDO Becomes World Leader with Unique Weapon System - Sputnik India, 1920, 03.05.2024
India's DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) on May 1, 2024 successfully flight tested the supersonic missile-assisted release of torpedo (SMART) system from Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast.The SMART missile was launched around 8.30 am using the ground mobile launcher of the system.
The DRDO is developing SMART to extend anti-submarine warfare capability far beyond the range of a ship or submarine launched conventional torpedo.
The SMART system uses a two stage ballistic missile that performs a guided flight to a designated target area and then releases a light weight anti-submarine torpedo system for ASW operations.
SMART was last tested successfully on December 13, 2021. During the mission, full range capability of the missile was successfully demonstrated.
The maiden test of the missile was conducted on October 5, 2020. All the mission objectives, including missile flight up to the range and altitude, separation of the nose cone, release of Torpedo and deployment of Velocity Reduction Mechanism (VRM) were achieved.

Project Aim

Indian MoD sanctioned the SMART project in November 2016 with the aim to develop and demonstrate missile assisted release of light weight anti-submarine torpedo system for ASW operations 50-650 km away from the launch site.
This canister-based SMART is launched from a ground mobile launcher and carries the DRDO developed TAL (Torpedo Advanced Light) which is now being upgraded for parachute based airdrop.
A number of DRDO laboratories including DRDL, RCI Hyderabad, ADRDE Agra, NSTL Visakhapatnam have developed the technologies required for SMART. Private industry participated in the development and production of various sub-systems.

TAL (Torpedo Advanced Light)

The TAL is named Shyena which in Sanskrit means Hawk.
On safe separation from its carrier, an Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft or missile, the TAL descends with the help of a parachute. Approaching the sea surface, its Torpedo Release Mechanism (TRM) detaches the parachute. The torpedo drops into the sea and begins its hunt for the target.
The TAL can track multiple targets simultaneously using state-of-the-art processor based signal processing algorithms.
On March 8, 2021 Visakhapatnam-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL) successfully conducted the maiden flight trial of TAL with a Parachute system from Indian Navy’s Aircraft IL-38SD off Visakhapatnam.

Historical Perspective - Rocket Launched Torpedoes

Both the US and the Soviet Union developed ballistic missile launched torpedoes in the 1980s - US ASROC and Russian Club-S 91RE1 (cruise) missile systems being examples.
The Russian 91RE1 anti-submarine ballistic missile performs a controlled flight to the target area. Its separable warhead is a high-speed homing torpedo with a sonar target seeker.
The ship launched 91RTE2 anti-submarine ballistic missile (Club-N) differs from 91RE1 missile in size, weight, range and booster design.
The 91RTE2 is longer (8.916 m vs 7.65 m), heavier (3105 kg vs 2100 kg) and features a longer max range (50 km vs 40 km)
The Indian Navy is known to field the Klub family of missiles, but it's not known if it has the 91RE1 or 91RTE2 in its inventory.
It's likely that DRDO is developing the SMART system for use by ships and coastal batteries.

Challenges of Missile Assisted Torpedo Launch

There are two technology challenges in developing a missile that can engage a submarine at 50-650 km range - Obtaining accurate coordinates of the target area and precisely dropping a torpedo in the area in quick time.

Imperative for SMART

The long reach of the SMART system will give India the option to safeguard its coast line, not only from adversary submarines, but also subsurface drones which are evolving into dangerous platforms.

The Indian Navy (IN) has acquired the capability to detect and track submarines hundreds of kilometres away from its coastline using platforms such as the MQ-9B Sea Guardian drone and the P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. What the IN lacks is the ability to engage a submarine that poses a threat at long distance.

MQ-9B Sea Guardian

The IN currently operates 2 MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones reportedly from INS Rajali in the state of Tamil Naidu. The Navy is poised to acquire more MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones through a contract under finalisation to acquire 31 MQ-9B drones - of which 15 will go to the IAF, 8 to the Indian Army and 8 to the IN.
The Sea Guardian has a 40 hr endurance and is equipped with electro optical and radar (SAR and maritime surveillance) sensors that can cover large maritime areas for extended periods without the need for frequent refuelling or maintenance.
Diesel submarines need to periodically surface to recharge their batteries, which makes them susceptible to detection by a drone such as the SeaGuardian.


IN P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti Submarine Warfare (LRMRASW) aircraft can also detect surfaced submarines employing its sensors like radar and electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) cameras. Additionally, it has the capability to detect submerged submarines primarily through the use of sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) systems. By dropping sonobuoys on the sea surface, the P-8I can search for submarines over a wide area. A tail boom mounted MAD system detects disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field caused by large metallic objects underwater, such as submarines. The P-8 Poseidon can effectively locate and track submerged submarines for as long as it can remain on station.
The capability to detect submerged submarines is particularly important since nuclear submarines do not need to surface periodically to recharge their batteries.

Engagement Challenges

The challenge for the IN currently is to engage a hostile submarine that it detects using its MQ-9B or P-8I hundreds of kilometres away from its coast line. This is where the SMART option comes in. The supersonic missile can reach the target area quickly and drop a torpedo in the area the submarine was last detected.


It's heartening to see DRDO pursue military technology that is a generation ahead of what is available elsewhere in the world, including the US. India has a long coastline to defend and our defence requirements are unique to our threat perspective.
The range of the SMART system is far greater than that of the Russian 91RTE2 (50 km) and the US ASROC (9.7 km).
Following the use of underwater drones by the British against Russia in the Ukraine war, maritime nations across the world are drawn to the potential of Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) in warfare. Both small and large long range AUVs are under development. The technology is affordable enough for not just small states to deploy but also for non-state actors to deploy.
The IN and DRDO's pursuit of SMART demonstrates excellent foresight.
As India deploys more and more surveillance satellites, the IN's capability to detect surfaced submarine threats will increase, making SMART more and more relevant.
Supersonic Missile-Assisted Release of Torpedo system successfully flight-tested by DRDO - Sputnik India, 1920, 02.05.2024
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