India’s first naval anti-drone system should send chills down the enemy’s spine and the Navy is set to arm itself with it

navy anti-drone nads

Future wars will not be fought only by a group of men using manually operated guns, canons and weapons systems. Rather, the world is moving towards a dangerous state in which Artificial Intelligence-enabled, low-cost drones would be used to target adversary military targets. Finally, Indian policymakers seem to be realising this. In fact, the Indian Navy has signed a contract with Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) for India’s first indigenous naval anti-drone system (NADS).

A Ministry of Defence statement disclosed, “The Indian Navy has signed a contract with Navratna Defence public sector undertaking BEL for the supply of the first indigenous comprehensive Naval Anti Drone System with both hard-kill and soft kill capabilities.”

The statement added that the NADS can instantly detect micro drones and uses a laser-based “kill mechanism” to neutralise the targets.

The Ministry of Defence also stated, “The DRDO’s RF/Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) detects the frequency which is being used by the controller and the signals are then jammed.”

In the context of military technology, “soft kill” means jamming the hostile drone, whereas “hard kill” means neutralising the enemy drone by using the laser-based “kill mechanism”.

The locally-made NADS has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and they will be manufactured by BEL. DRDO said, “The NADS can instantly detect and jam micro drones and use a laser-based kill mechanism to terminate targets. It will be an effective, all-encompassing counter to the increased drone threat to strategic naval installations.”

Yet, for India, the need of developing counter-drone technology isn’t restricted merely to protecting naval installations. Serious concerns regarding the use of drones by adversary forces came into the picture when suspected Pakistan-based terrorists used two drones to attack the Jammu Air Force station in June.

Some explosives were dropped at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu, which triggered fears among national security planners regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. After all, this was the first-ever use of drones to target an Indian defence property.

The deployment of anti-drone systems is also crucial in the context of the rampant militarization in Eastern Ladakh for more than a year now. China has been trying to develop a massive offensive drones industry. Therefore, it is imperative for India to develop and deploy anti-drone systems at the possible conflict points at the Line of Actual Control (LAC)- the de facto Indo-Tibet (China administered) border.

NADS itself can be used outside the naval sphere too. It was deployed for VVIP protection duties during the Republic Day 2020, Trump-Modi roadshow in Ahmedabad last year, Republic Day 2021 and also during Prime Minister’s Independence Day speech last month.

In fact, the Ministry of Defence statement has also revealed that BEL will sign similar contracts with the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) for the supply of anti-drone systems.

India is looking to make a big leap in its counter-drone manufacturing sector. Both mobile and static versions of the NADS will be supplied to the Indian Navy shortly. Also, the DRDO is ready to transfer technology to private companies for speeding up the manufacturing of anti-drone systems.