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German firm set to supply sonar systems to Indian Navy

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BREMEN, GERMANY (PTI): German defence firm Atlas Elektroniks is close to signing a deal with India for the supply of low frequency sonar systems for its warships, enabling them to detect enemy submarines, warships and torpedoes from a long range.

The Active Towed Away Sonars (ACTAS) are intended to be mounted on six Indian Navy warships.

These low frequency sonars with active as well as passive operating system would help surface vessels locate enemy submarines, torpedoes and surface ships from a very long range and launch attacks, company officials said here.

"The formalities are almost over and we should be signing a contract soon," the officials said refusing to be identified as the agreement is still being finalised.

The company with over 100 years of experience in maritime technologies is expected to build more ACTAS systems later in India in partnership with Bharat Electronics under Transfer of Technology clause.

ACTAS is designed to operate in deep as well as shallow waters and allows variable depth operations.

While the country's western coast line is shallow, the sea off its eastern coast line is much deeper.

Indian Navy has been exploring various possibilities to build up its capabilities which have suffered a setback due to the sinking of a Russian Kilo class submarine off the Mumbai coast in August.

"The fitting of surface ships with these sonars will considerably augment the Anti-Submarine Warfare capability in these assets. As India's fleet of submarines is barely modest and it will take many years before their numbers see any increase, fitting warships with latest ASW is the next best thing to do," sources said.

ACTAS is the biggest sonar on surface ship and its low frequency programme could detect enemy warships and submarines from a long range.

Company sources said it has a special technological edge in detecting torpedoes and its "automatic torpedo warning" works continuously in the background and automatically generates alerts.

Atlas is already engaged in upgrading over 64 SUT torpedoes, which can be used from all Western platforms, in a deal close to 60 million Euros.

It is also in the process of modernising the four Shishumar class submarines, bought from another German firm HDW, and while two of them have already undergone the upgrade, two others are under the process.

Indian navy presently operates 14 submarines and for all practical purposes, not more than eight are in operation mode at one time. While 10 of them are Russian, others were supplied by HDW.

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