India’s ministry of defence (MOD) has issued a combined tri-service requirement for the acquisition of up to 150, medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAVs.
An MOD request for information has called for the UAVs to be procured under the “Make in India” initiative from Indian companies.
“The UAVs are proposed to be developed and manufactured by the Indian industry under an appropriate category of the Defence Procurement Policy like Buy & Make (Indian) etc,” says the RFI.
The manufacture of the MALE UAV can also be undertaken by industry consortiums.
Combined tri-service acquisitions are rare in India’s torturous defence procurement environment. The UAV RFI signals an urgency to quickly procure and induct MALE UAVs across the three services.
The acquisition will see the acquisition of the UAVs themselves, ground control stations, payloads and associated equipment produced in India. The base requirement as per the RFI is for 100 UAVs, 50 ground control stations, and 100 payloads.
The requirement could rise to 150 UAVs, 75 ground control stations, and 150 payloads.
The UAVs are to perform a range of tasks from artillery adjustment, combat search and rescue (SAR) and coastal/maritime patrol to urban security, disaster control and protection of facilities. India’s hot and high requirements mean that the UAV and its subsystems should remain operational across temperatures ranging from -40 degrees centigrade to +55 degrees centigrade.
The MALE UAVs should have a service ceiling of 30,000 feet or more, and a maximum range in excess of 250kms in line of sight mode. An endurance greater than 25 hours with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) payloads has been asked for.
Other MOD requirements include; a satellite based navigation system and the ability to make use of India’s Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), and Automatic and Takeoff Landing (ATOL) capability.
New Delhi has also undertaken the development of indigenous MALE UAVs such as the Rustom-I, a technology demonstrator and Rustom II, which remains some time away from entering operational service.
India’s military operates other UAVs of predominantly Israeli origin, such as the IAI Searcher I, II and Heron.