Indian Navy’s AI-Fuelled Transformation To Catch Up With Global Superpowers

indian navy


indian navy
File photo of Ships of First Training Squadron (1TS) visiting Port Victoria, Seychelles. (Image credit: @IndianNavy/Twitter)

After incorporating artificial intelligence and other smart technologies in the armed forces and the aviation sector, the country is now moving to incorporate AI and machine learning in the Indian Navy.

However, this is not the first time that the Indian Army and the Government have talked about incorporating AI in the defence sector. In May 2018, the Narendra Modi-led government had already started working on incorporating AI to prepare the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force for next-generation warfare.


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In this article we are listing down the ways in which the Indian Navy is already on its way to inculcating emerging tech:

AI Task Force

The AI Task Force set up in 2017 had also made recommendations on how to make India a significant power in AI, in terms of both offensive and defensive needs, especially in aviation, naval, land systems, cyber, nuclear and biological warfare arenas. Initial tenders or RFIs (requests for information) were also floated on dual-use AI capabilities.

Joining hands With The CISR

The Indian Navy and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) this month inked an MoU to undertake joint research and development of advanced technologies for the Indian Navy. This is set to be a collaborative arrangement between labs of CSIR, the Indian Navy and Indian industry.

This document basically provides a formal framework for interaction between the Indian Navy and CSIR. It will facilitate joint R&D activities in diverse fields of mechanical, electronics, communication, computer science, propulsion systems, metallurgy and nanotechnology.

Some of the immediate projects under this MoU include:

  • Development of alternative desalination technologies
  • Installation of wireless MEMS-based sensors for remote operation
  • Residual Life Assessment studies of Gas Turbine Generator blades to improve reliability

Academia Meets The Navy

Earlier this year, the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL) had organised the NSTL – Academia Meet with the theme Artificial Intelligence for Naval Systems. A gathering of the academia and the Navy had proved to be an ideal platform for deliberation and discussion on AI and its application in defence systems, with specific emphasis on naval systems.

Dr OR Nandagopan, Outstanding Scientist and Director at NSTL had said, “Academic institutes are the fountainheads of innovation. Gatherings such as these, help bridge the gap between academia and R&D institutes and bring out a roadmap for futuristic research in respect of AI-enabled naval systems.”

Dr Samir V Kamath, Scientist and Director General (Naval Systems and Materials) at DRDO, had also opined that AI would play a major role in the battlefield of the future and hoped that the participants would benefit immensely from the interaction.

AI In Combat Management

Last month in March, a combat management system developed by a private company was handed over to the Indian Navy. The CMS was created for India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, also known as IAC-1 or Vikrant and was developed by Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division in collaboration with Weapon and Electronics System Engineering Establishment and MARS, Russia.

This naval CMS has the capability to:

  • Connects a ship’s sensors
  • Weapons
  • Data links
  • Support measures to the staff performing combat tasks
  • Have sensor control
  • Sensor data fusion
  • Threat evaluation
  • Weapons control


Speaking to a financial daily, Milind Kulshreshtha a C4I expert, said, “AI will help in identifying potential threats unambiguously and immediately. It will also help the command team make informed decisions faster and rapidly detects and evaluate potential threats removing anomalies.” He also added that AI is inherently designed to integrate itself into existing warship equipment suits to optimise their exploitation.

However, there are things that can stand in the way of technical progress in the Indian Navy:

  • Lack of Data science talent internally
  • Lack of AI initiatives for the Navy
  • Undeveloped eco-system for enterprise-level exploitation

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Prajakta Hebbar
Prajakta is a Writer/Editor/Social Media diva. Lover of all that is 'quaint', her favourite things include dogs, Starbucks, butter popcorn, Jane Austen novels and neo-noir films. She has previously worked for HuffPost, CNN IBN, The Indian Express and Bose.

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