Indian Army to replace traditional mule transport with drones, robots for supplies in border areas

A Rs 285-crore deal has been signed for 100 four-legged robotic mules, capable of autonomous movement in different terrains up to 10,000 feet.
Multi-utility legged equipment (MULE)
Multi-utility legged equipment (MULE)

New Delhi: After over a century of service, the Indian Army’s mules, known for their steadfastness in transporting essential supplies across treacherous terrains and extreme weather conditions to remote border posts, are being phased out.

This move is part of the Army’s modernisation drive, which includes the induction of logistics drones, robotic mules, and specialised vehicles to enhance operational logistics.

As part of its “force restructuring and optimization” strategy, the 12-lakh strong Army aims to reduce its manpower by around one lakh personnel by 2027.

This includes the gradual disbandment of animal transport companies and other outdated units.

The Army has already reduced its fleet of “mountain artillery mules,” which carried mortars and ammunition to inaccessible forward posts, by 1,500.

“The few remaining such mules will go by 2025,” an officer was quoted as saying by Times of India.

In addition, over 3,300 “general service mules,” used for transporting rations, fuel, water, and ammunition, are set to be retired progressively by the end of this decade.

In a significant technological upgrade, the Army has invested over Rs 320 crore in the past year for 563 logistics drones, designed for operations in high-altitude areas.

“Such drones can carry out last-mile delivery to troops deployed along the borders. They will reduce the need for soldiers and porters as well as animal transport companies to carry supplies and ammunition,” the officer said.

A Rs 285-crore deal has also been signed for 100 four-legged robotic mules, capable of autonomous movement in different terrains up to 10,000 feet.

Additionally, a contract for 300 rough-terrain vehicles, each capable of carrying over 100 kg, has been finalised for almost Rs 70 crore.

The reduction in animal transport will lead to the closure of five mobile field veterinary hospitals and the remount training school and depot, where mules were bred and trained.

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