HomeCurrent affairsIndian Army Accelerates Modernization with Emergency Procurement of Tethered Drones and Tank...

Indian Army Accelerates Modernization with Emergency Procurement of Tethered Drones and Tank Simulators

In response to Emergency Procurement (EP), the Army has taken action to sign contracts for the purchase of 130 tethered drones and 19 tank-driving simulators, with delivery slated within 12 months. The armed services are currently executing the fourth batch of EPs, as authorized by the Defence Ministry.

“Indian Army has signed the contract for procurement of 130 Tethered Drones and 19 Tank Driving Simulators. The induction of such new equipment will enhance the overall operational preparedness…,” according to a post on social media by the Army.

One individual reports that the Army can utilize the long-endurance tether drone systems in high-altitude locations and is set to procure them from Bengaluru-based NewSpace Research & Technologies Pvt Ltd. at an estimated cost of $250 crore. These acquisitions are taking place through the EP route, which requires completing deliveries within a year. Having procured drones from NewSpace in the past, the Army has engaged with the company as it develops a range of drone technologies, including drone swarms capable of targeting with 5–10 kg of explosives.

In recent times, the Army has issued numerous tenders for a diverse array of drones, encompassing categories such as loitering, load-carrying, and logistics drones. Over the preceding three years, amid the Eastern Ladakh stand-off, the Army has entered into contracts with various Indian start-ups for compact surveillance and load-carrying drones.

A startup company called Raphe mPhibr Pvt. Ltd. received two distinct orders from the Army, one for 100 quadcopter drones for the Armoured Corps and the other for 48 mR-20 logistics drones for the infantry that can transport cargo up to 20 kg in high-altitude zones.

Similar to this, Mumbai-based ideaForge, which makes drones, received a second order from the Army last year to provide 200 of its Switch Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) mini-unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and related equipment. To boost surveillance along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Army and ideaForge agreed to a $20 million deal for Switch UAVs in January 2021. They also agreed to a follow-up purchase for an undefined number of Switch UAVs.

Under the fourth tranche of EP, the Army has finalized 49 contracts amounting to $7,600 crore, with an additional 34 contracts of the same value projected and expected to conclude by the end of September.

After the 2016 Uri terror assault, the Defence Ministry granted the armed services emergency funding authority for the first time, allowing them to purchase weapons systems up to 300 crore on an “urgent basis without any further clearance to cut short the procurement cycle.”

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