Army invites tenders for indigenous surveillance drones

Navy drone keeps eye on China linked Coco Islands after top Myanmar military official’s visit (File Photo)
Navy drone keeps eye on China linked Coco Islands after top Myanmar military official’s visit (File Photo)

New Delhi: The Army on Tuesday issued tenders for acquiring 750 remotely piloted aerial vehicles, indigenous surveillance drones, that will be used by special forces for surveillance in a 5-km radius. The aerial vehicles should be operable in all weather conditions and from indoors too. The tender said that the systems need to have at least 50% indigenous content and will have to be supplied in a year. The new acquisitions will replace Chinese-origin mini-drones that have been used by armed forces units since indigenous equipment was not available.

"The current volatile situation along the northern borders warrants expeditious procurement of operational equipment…This equipment will be employed for situational awareness, short-range surveillance, scanning the target area, and providing a processed 3D image of the target before entering the target area," the tender said.

The systems will enable special forces to "execute pin-point precision strikes during direct action tasks such as raids, elimination of high-value targets, command and control elements, including enemy leadership".

Several Indian private sector companies have been developing drones for the armed forces and the tender is likely to spur serial production of such systems needed in thousands for troops deployed along borders as well as for counter-insurgency operations.

The latest requirement adds to a growing list of drones acquired by the armed forces under the emergency route. The emergency powers, granted by the defence ministry in August, enable forces to expeditiously purchase systems up to the value of Rs 300 crore per project, with deliveries to be made in less than a year.

Besides the special forces requirement, the Army is also looking for cargo drones that can carry supplies and spares to troops located at difficult posts along the border. The requirement is for 200 drones to be used at medium altitudes and 163 for operations at high-altitude areas. Besides, the infantry is looking for 1,000 surveillance copters and the artillery has a requirement for 80 drones with control and communication equipment. The Army is expected to shortly float requirements for a range of loitering munitions as well, which can strike down enemy targets with high precision, beyond the range of artillery guns deployed on the border.

(Defence Watch– India's Defence News centre that places the spotlight on Defence Manufacturing, Defence Technology, Strategy and Military affairs is on Twitter. Follow us here and stay updated.)

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