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India wants 60 short-range surveillance drones

Only Indian vendors are invited to respond to the Army's information request

The Indian Army has issued a Request for Information on the purchase of 60 short-range remotely piloted surveillance aircraft, associated payloads and ground support equipment for  the Indian Defence Forces.

Only Indian vendors are invited to respond by December 28, and they must “include their capability to indigenously design, develop and absorb the technology sought and provide life time support,” the RFI states.

The project is to be based on proven or matured technologies and the systems “are proposed to be developed and manufactured by the Indian industry” or consortiums.

A purchase request is to be issued in January, and the equipment is to be procured in phases a 24-month period.

The drones are intended for sustained large-area day-and-night aerial surveillance and to have a service life of 20 years. The RFI sets as parameters endurance of 10 hours, a 200km (124 mile) range, an operational altitude of 15,000 feet and a ceiling altitude of 20,000 feet, allowing use in most of India’s Himalaya region.

An operational temperature range of -40°C to +55°C, operation in 50 knot winds and in a minimum of 15mm per hour rain are also specified within the information requested.

Payloads requested include electronic intelligence and communication, Synthetic Aperture Radar, Maritime Patrol Radar, and Electro-Optical and Infra-Red (IR) with Laser Designator.

DRDO developed drone fits requirements

The RFI requirements broadly match the capabilities of the TAPAS-BH-201 (Rustom 2) drone developed indigenously by DRDO which flew for the first time in 2016, although it requires a runway for takeoff and landing.

The new UAV is intended replace Israeli Heron drones used by the Indian Air Force and Navy.

India is focused on developing military capabilities and appears determined to develop systems indigenously or manufacture in the country with significant technology transfer.

On November 8, India’s Ministry of Defence published an RFI to develop and build 1,770 multipurpose Future Ready Combat Vehicles for the Indian Army to replace its fleet of around 1,900 T-72 main battle tanks.

The Nirbhay long-range cruise missile and a new smart anti-airfield glide bomb have both been successfully tested recently.

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