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As threat grows, IAF seeks hand-held, one-man system to shoot down drones

Source : Tribune

As threat grows, IAF seeks hand-held, one-man system to shoot down drones
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Amidst growing threat posed by unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the Indian Air Force has chalked out a requirement for a hand held, easy to use system that can shoot down rouge drones.

The sixth edition of Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC-6), launched by the Defence Minister on April 22, calls upon the industry to develop a hand held, hard kill, counter-UAS system. DISC is a platform under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence that offers specific projects to the industry, particularly start-ups, to develop technological solution and products for the armed forces.

According to parameters listed in the document, the self-contained system should be man portable and be operable by a single person besides having a range greater than 300 metre and capable of repeated use in quick succession.

Further, it should not require any special skills and training for neutralizing the drone and the provision of aiming and neutralising should be very simple and achievable with minimum training.

The system is meant to intercept and destroy small low flying drones that have miniscule radar, thermal or acoustic signature and are primarily used for surveillance and cross border smuggling or can be used to carry out a terror strike, as was experienced at the Pathankot airbase in Punjablast year.

Punjab and Jammu regions remain vulnerable. According to data available with the Border Security Force, there were 100 drone sightings along the western border in 2021, out of which 67 were in Punjab followed by 24 in the JammuSector. This year there havealready been over half a dozen engagements with drones, with some reports claiming that an IED that exploded nearJammu on the day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally is believed to have been dropped by a drone.

While the capability to detect and counter large unmanned aerial vehicles exits, detection of small drones is very difficult and at present depends primarily on visual sightings or audio hearing. Troops engage small drones with standard rifles, which is difficult.

Two basic options to neutralize drones are the soft kill, which relies on jamming or hacking the target drone’s radio signals, or the hard kill which requires the drone to be physically destroyed by ordnance or lasers.

The armed forces as well as paramilitary and police organisations are laying great stress on the induction of anti-drone systems. Besides procurement of some foreign systems, several projects are underway to develop different indigenous systems to counter various types to drones.

Over the past few years, there have been several reported instances where drones have been used to smuggle arms and ammunition as well as narcotics into India. Employment of drones for surveillance and recce in border areas is also a regular feature. Border guarding forces have been modifying their operating procedures to tackle hostile drones.

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