While the India-China border stand-off at the Eastern Line of Actual Control in Ladakh no longer dominates the global headlines, the stand-off is far from over. The two nations continue to battle it out amidst the harsh winter with India in no mood to let China off the hook this time around. India has now ramped up the surveillance across the border, as the Indian Air Force has deployed Israeli Heron Drone to keep a check on any Chinese misadventure and build up near Ladakh. Additionally, further Made in India drones are on the way in order to ramp up the surveillance near the Eastern LAC.
Reportedly, the drone was spotted at the Indian Air Forces’ Trishul airbase in Bareilly and is believed to be a part of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The Indian Air Force and Indian Navy have been in the possession of the Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) since several years and primarily use it for surveillance and target acquisition purposes.
Under the Indian Air Force’s Rs 3,500 crore ’Project Cheetah’, it is looking to upgrade the 90 Heron drones with laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground, and air-launched anti-tank guided missiles in order to carry out combat operations against enemies. It is also reported that India’s bid to procure combat ready UAVs is in the final stages.
Now, the Indian Army has decided to boost its existing fleet of drones with Made-in-India drones as it has struck a deal with Navi Mumbai based IdeaForge for the SWITCH UAVs as a part of its tactical drones fleet for its infantry troops and will be deployed in high-altitude areas like Ladakh. The deal is reportedly worth Rs 140 crore.
The SWITCH UAVs can be launched from an altitude of up to 4,000 meters above mean sea level with the maximum operating altitude being approximately 1,000 meters above ground level. The UAVs which are likely to be supplied in hundreds as a part of the deal, have an endurance capability of around 2 hours and a 15 kilometre operational range.
IdeaForge in a blogpost in March last year, said, “IdeaForge…has perfected its drone along high-stakes military standards right from having high flight time…stability, automation, easy use and deployment, vertical take-off and landing, etc. It can be setup and put in the air from virtually anywhere (even at high altitudes). The entire Ground Control Station including the drone, fits in a single bag.”
The delivery of the drones have been fast tracked keeping in mind the border stand off at Ladakh and its reported that the order will be completed over the next year.