India is planning to purchase remotely controlled aerial surveillance platforms which would provide real time inputs in the form of imagery and electronic data to fighting formations during operations. The defense ministry announced that it would be spending approximately $461 million on the purchase of forty four such aerial vehicles.
The system would be capable of carrying different kinds of surveillance payloads such as electro optic and night payload, synthetic aperture radar and electronic support measures.
“UAVs and drones are increasingly assuming importance in warfare and are used by militaries across the world for carrying out a variety of functions mainly in terms of surveillance and target acquisition, communications and now even delivery of stores in remote areas. This will considerably enhance the surveillance and reconnaissance potential of the army in the tactical battle area and beyond,” Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst told Sputnik.
Army has plans to induct twenty four remotely controlled aerial surveillance platforms by 2022 while another twenty in next five years after 2022. Bhonsle is of the opinion that if private defense firms utilize this timeframe to develop a local technology, it would be possible for them to deliver the system. “A five year time line is reasonable provided the initial GSQR is drawn up correctly and there are no changes made during the acquisition process,” Bhonsle said.
“The state-owned Defense Research Development Organization (DRDO) has developed Rustom and other UAVs but these have not been accepted for induction by the Army. These could be revived after meeting the detailed GSQR or alternately the same may have to be imported from abroad,” Bhonsle added.
Last month, Indian firm Alpha Design Technologies inked an agreement with Israeli Elbit Security Systems Ltd for development and manufacturing of mini & medium size UAVs.
Bangalore-based Dynamatic Technologies and Elcom have also signed ‘Strategic Teaming Agreement’ to produce, assemble and support UAVs in India with Israeli Israel Aerospace Industries. The joint venture is targeting the lucrative Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV market in India under technology transfer from Israel Aerospace Industries.