India: The ministry of defence is set to clear a proposal requested by the Indian army to equip all infantry and mechanised battalions with a new squad of mini-unmanned aerial vehicles for deeper insights into the battlefield. The proposal seeks sanction to purchase 1,800 mini-UAVs, along with ground systems and support.
According to sources, the proposal will be permitted by the ministry this week, following the approval of the defence acquisition committee.The planned purchase will also boost the private industry as it will be categorised as a 'Make in India' project, with the potential of orders increasing exponentially over the next few years. Officials said the plan is to raise 600 UAV squads – each consisting of three 'birds', a ground control system and a heavy vehicle.
It is said, the UAVs will have a remote control range of 10 km, and that they would provide vital intelligence for ground troops. These squads will be attached to all infantry and armoured battalions of the Indian Army, which currently rely on information from other units that operate longer range UAVs such as the Heron and Searcher of Israeli origin. Infantry battalions posted in conflict zones do occasionally purchase and operate mini UAVs, but they are not yet part of standard equipment.
Once get the clearance from the ministry, the army can float tenders for the UAVs. At least a dozen Indian companies are expected to bid for the contract and several of them have tied up with foreign vendors for technology transfer.
Source: Economic Times