Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) Technology Part 2 (Download PDF)


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AIP is a marine propulsion technology which access non-nuclear submarine to operate without access to atmospheric oxygen. On 30th Oct 2019, DRDO tested a land based prototype of an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) for submarine.

Needs and Its Significance to India

  • DRDO developed phosphoric Acid Fuel cell (PAFC) powered AIP technology which allows the submarine to stay underwater for longer duration without resurfacing.
  • The fuel cell Air Independent Propulsion converts chemical energy from fuel cell into electricity through chemical reaction of positively charged hydrogen ions with oxygen or other oxidizing agent.
  • In India first scorpene submarines to get indigenous AIP system will happen only on 2021 - 22.
  • Navy also plans to use DRDO developed AIP system for six next generation diesel-electric submarines which will be procured under project 751 in India soon.
  • Modern diesel-electric submarines remain submerged for 4 - 5 days. They have to come to periscope level to carry out an activity called snorkeling. This is done to recharge their batteries. AIP increases their underwater endurance and allow them to stay underwater for weeks. But nuclear powered submarines can stay underwater for months.
  • Some examples are the Soryu class of Japan, Type 216 being developed by Germany and the Shortfin Barracuda of France which will be operated by Australia.


  • As compared to other technologies fuel cell AIP has merits in performance.
  • Increase submarine range
  • Improve underwater long endurance capacity
  • Avoid the high costs of nuclear power
  • Retain advantages of conventional diesel-electric submarines.


  • AIP is primarily used to recharge batteries but does not significantly increase the time a submarine can operate at high speed.
  • And AIP power outputs are limited.

Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)

  • The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is the R&D wing of Ministry of Defense, government of India. Headquartered in New Delhi.
  • DRDO was established in the year 1958.
  • It is under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defense.
  • It has a mission to achieve self reliance in critical defense technologies and systems.
  • DRDO successful in indigenous development and production of strategic systems and platforms such as Agni and Prithvi series of missiles.

Naval Material Research Laboratory (NMRL)

  • Naval Material Research Laboratory (NMRL) has been working for the last 6 decades in the area of materials and technologies suitable for the marine environment.
  • Initially it was a Naval Chemical & Metallurgical Laboratory (NCML) which was setup in 1953 at naval Dockyard, Mumbai. Later in 1995 NCML renamed as Naval Material Research Laboratory (NMRL) and shifted to Ambernath from Naval Dockyard, Bombay in 1997.
  • The mission of the NMRL is to develop Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system for submarine and fuel cell technologies.
  • It also aims to provide scientific solutions for all categories of materials & related technologies for Indian Navy.

- Published/Last Modified on: November 15, 2019


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