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Indian Navy gets its first Varunastra heavy weight torpedo

The Union Minister for Defence, Shri Manohar Parrikar and the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba looking at Varunastra torpedo. (Indian Ministry of Defense/Released)
November 30, 2020

As India moves forward with self-reliance and rapid modernization plans through its own domestic military industries, yet another milestone was achieved in the naval weapons sector. India joined a handful of nations’ leagues to design and operate its own heavyweight torpedo.

On Saturday, India’s public sector firm Bharat Dynamics Limited delivered the first indigenously built heavyweight torpedo dubbed “Varunastra” by the Indian Navy. Department of Defense R&D secretary and chairman of the DRDO Dr. G Sateesh Reddy flagged off the first hand-over of weapons in a ceremony held at the BDL Facility in Visakhapatnam.

Varunastra is India’s first homebuilt heavyweight torpedo, called a full-fledged underwater weapon in the class of torpedoes used by Western countries like the Seahake of Germany or the Mk48 of the U.S. Varunastra is designed and built by the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory (NSTL), a naval weapon development wing of DRDO. Varunastra is named after the celestial weapon of the Hindu water god Varuna.

The torpedo, measured at 533 mm diameter, is designed to be fitted on submarine tubes and on surface warships. Without any changes, it can operate at a maximum depth of 400 meters and can travel at 74 km per hour with a maximum hitting range of 40+ km. Varunastra is wire-guided with the addition of both passive and active acoustic homing abilities. India officially inducted the torpedo in 2016 and ordered 73 torpedoes to be built as the initial order for use on Indian Navy warships. Bharat Dynamics Limited is the official manufacturer of the torpedo, the same firm that is responsible for manufacturing various missiles like the Agni, Prithvi, and Aakash, designed by DRDO. Currently, it is tasked with manufacturing QR-SAM beside Varunastra for Indian armed forces. QR-SAM recently cleared one of its developmental trials successfully.

As India moves forward to be self-dependent in the defense sector, the naval forces are a prime example of a steady but self-reliant motive put forth by Indian PM Modi’s pitch of Atma-Nirbhar. India already put 101 weapons in embargo for foreign import, focusing on the domestic option to possibly allow the production of same class weapons without worrying about importing. In the case of Varunastra, India already pitched it for Vietnam, after offering Brahmos missile and a Kilo-class submarine.