The DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) has confirmed plans to develop a medium-range and long- endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in collaboration with an Indian industry partner.
"To reduce the time for design, development and subsequent transfer of technology to an industry for bulk production of a MALE UAV, DRDO has been authorised to associate with a production and development partner (PADP) from eligible industries on a competitive basis," explained defence minister A K Antony.
According to Antony, the DRDO, which submitted a request for proposal (RFP), has already shortlisted four industry consortia via a "transparent process".
"The PADP would become the system integrator and provide product support after induction," added the defence minister.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has asked the DRDO to upgrade a protective accoustic alarm system used to warn off hostile terrorist elements. The platform, which is composed of multiple sensors deployed around the perimeter of a ship, sounds a piercing siren when suspicious movements are detected.
The DRDO has also decided to accelerate its Nayan program designed to provide multi-layer electronic protection for potential coastal targets. The new system will feature underwater sensors that transmit data to a land-based control room via a satellite or UAV.
As IT Examiner previously reported, the crowded Indian defence market has led numerous officials to express concern over a perceived lack of indigenous self-reliance. To be sure, Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Fali Homi Major recently recommended that New Delhi reduce its dependency on aerospace imports by embarking on a "strategic shift [that] will offer the required thrust towards building skills and infrastructure for engineering and manufacturing".
As such, the MoD has embarked on a number of new defence projects designed to reduce India's dependence on foreign imports. For example, the DRDO is currently developing a new generation of UAVs capable of deploying laser target designators (LTDs) deep inside enemy territory.
"We are planning to base LTDs on UAVs to cut down the risk of our troops getting caught inside enemy territory while illuminating targets for attack and save the cost of sending another aircraft for doing the task," said a senior Defence Ministry official.
In addition, the IAF recently tested an upgraded version of the Lakshya drone. The micro-light pilotless target aircraft was fitted with an advanced digitally controlled engine and successfully flown from the Integrated Test Range in Balasore. The indigenously-designed Lakshya was developed by the DRDO and inducted into the IAF in 2000. According to GlobalSecurity, the Lakshya is utilised for the training of gun/missile crews and air defence pilots. X
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