Army plans to induct 600 Battlefield UAV's
As the Future Soldier program is on the track, Army stepping up to induct more than 600 battlefield UAV into the infantry battalion, to get real time intelligence and surveillance even deep behind enemy lines, The army earlier drafted the same RFI earlier 2012, however it is just some tens of UAV's, and now they plans to move with higher numbers, The Army expected to float the Request for Proposal by coming year, and start receiving the UAV's by 2017, under make in India Program, so far three companies already expressed interest in this project,
The RFI stated some basic characteristics of the Battlefield UAV, The main aspect and usage of the UAV should perform below operations
- Real-time, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
- Detection of enemy movement.
- Target Detection, recognition, identification and acquisition.
- Post Strike Damage Assessment (PSDA).
The Real time surveillance and reconnaissance mission has the endurance of 45 minutes on the air and upto the range of some 10 kilometers, and additional 5 kilometers control should be using any other Flying platforms like Friendly Helicopters of other Surveillance plane, as a example the ground control can capable to control the UAV at some 10 kilometers only, further increase the range, the UAV must be work with Friendly Aircraft nearby, a unique technique used by most foreign Army's Recon missions,
Detecting Enemy movement, with the thermal imaging and camera's, the UAV should count the heads of enemy ground troops and their current actual location should be transferred live to friendly forces, the network system can interlink all front line command center with the same video relay,
Target detection and Acquisition is something critical technique, most the UAV's don't have the algorithm's to count how many heads moving how many heads out of actions, what kinda Armour is that, what about the resupply wagon and what is it inside the wagon, thus kind of data can easily asses the enemies capabilities before striking,
Post Strike assessment, mostly these data can be acquired by Spy planes and Satellites, however using such platforms makes high cost and needs bunch of clearance before flying above the destroyed zone, possibilities of unnatural effects also spread the zone, Deploying UAV's is good idea for PSDA.
The RFI also stated the UAV must perform or follow existing Raster map coordinates, means the UAV can make Raster map or follow existing Raster map, Raster map means using color codes to denote the terrain availability, such as Hills, Trees, Mountain, Snow, River etc. the Digital terrain elevation data technique helps to examine the actual size and length of the Terrain, such as exact height of the Mountain, Tree's or Terrain, the onboard system should make a real time 3D mapping combined with the Raster Map.
The RFI also states the Requirements of the UAV's size and Transport capability,
- Three Aerial Vehicles (AV) or platforms.
- One Man Portable Ground Control Station (MPGCS).
- Three Launch and Recovery Systems
- One Remote Video Terminal (RVT).
- Three colour day video cameras and Three monochromatic night thermal sensors.
- One radio relay (RR)
Army plans to give three UAV sets to each infantry unit, means one battalion gets one unit of UAV, means some 900+ Soldiers and Officer team equipped with a three UAV's and support elements, makes the scout team gets clear information before going for Patrol, and the same can be watched in the Battalion Quarters,
The weight of one UAV with its MPGCS, backpack(s) (where required), one launch and recovery system (where required) and one set of Optical Sensors should not be more than 35 Kg. It should be possible to launch and recover the AV within an area of 50 metres by 50 metres. In case of a wheeled launch / recovery the AV should takeoff / land from an unpaved surface in a distance of not more than 50 metres.
The Army asks two variants of UAV, however the same can be perform all the above missions, Plains and Hills Variant capable of being launched and recovered upto an elevation of 3.0 km AMSL and operate upto 1000 metres Above Ground Level (AGL). It should have an endurance of 120 minutes with a loiter time of minimum 60 minutes with max payload at 1000 metres above take off altitude and ground operating temperatures of 0° (Zero degrees) C ± 5° C to plus 400 C ± 5°C, the Other High Altitude Variant capable of being launched and recovered upto an elevation of 4.0 Km AMSL and operate upto 1000 metres Above Ground Level (AGL). It should have an endurance of 90 minutes with a loiter time of minimum 45 minutes with max payload at 1000 metres above take off altitude and ground operating temperatures Minus 100 C ± 5° C to plus 300 C ± 5° C .
Army Sticks that the UAV's should work in high dense of Electromagnetic shield, allows the UAV hack proof and safe from external interferences, Army insists the 461 E standard of Electromagnetic stability in the UAV.
Currently, many companies bidding for the contract, The Israeli company Aeronautic proposing the Orbiter Battlefield Drone and the Elbit systems offering the Sky Lark UAV, the same Israel Defense Forces using in Battlefield's, those two of them yet to make a joint Company in India, those who are made a Company Jointly with an Indian Private firm only selected, meanwhile Americans are much faster, The Aeroviornment made an agreement and starts a Company with Indian Dynamatics Technologies, where they will offer the modified Puma UAV, known as Cheel, and Boeing teaming up with the TATA and proposes the Scan eagle UAV, the lead contender of the UAV procurement program .
Also a Polish UAV company named WB electronics already supplied some UAV's to Indian Army. however it's very small numbers, the battlefield UAV named Flyeye, the WB already teamed up with the Indian Kadet Systems, who is also a lead contender in the Contract, WB also plans to build several models of UAV's with Kadet systems, and make the Indian Plant as their Head, they also shown interest of proposing ISR maritime surveillance drones for Indian Navy and Coast Guards