The Indian Army has initiated the acquisition of 12 armed drone swarms for deployment on its borders, even as reports suggest the imminent induction of loitering munitions in a separate procurement.
A Request for Information was issued by the Army for Autonomous Surveillance and Armed Drone Swarms (A-SADS) on September 28 to be acquired under the Buy Indian - IDDM (Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured) category of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) at an estimated cost of Rs 700 Crore.
Each swarm is to comprise 50-75 explosives-laden, artificial intelligence-enabled aerial vehicles capable of vertical take-off and landing and of communicating with control stations as well as among themselves.
Seven of the 12 swarms are meant for deployment along high-altitude borders. The other five are for borders in the desert and the plains.
The RFI stipulates the requirement for Indigenous Content of 50 per cent. The high-altitude swarms are required to have a 30-km operating radius with two-hour endurance and the capability to operate in a Minus 20 Degrees Celsius environment.
Capability requirements for swarm operations in the plains and desert include a 50-km operating radius and an endurance of three hours.
The A-SADS are required with explosive payloads for targeting personnel and “shaped charge top-attack ammunition” to target tanks and armoured columns.
These will, in effect, have a Kamikaze role to target vital points and installations like command-and-control centres, radars, fuel dumps and, air defence sites.
An Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) feature has been stipulated for a quick response and enablement of the command-and-control centre to choose the vector to destroy a target.