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Indigenous ULUAV & SMG

These ULUAV and SMG orders highlight the growing prowess of local firms in innovating and demonstrates their capability to develop advanced defence technologies

June 25, 2024 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, PIB, OM UAV Systems
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army

 

DEPLOYED FROM THE SUBMERGED SUBMARINE USS PROVIDENCE, THE NRL DEVELOPED XFC UNMANNED AIRCRAFT (UAS) IS VERTICALLY LAUNCHED.

The war in Ukraine has witnessed the Russian underwater Nord Stream pipeline sabotaged by the US. Russia's Kerch Bridge leading to Crimea has also been targeted by Ukraine using UK-made underwater drones. In fact, the Ukraine War has accelerated the technological revolution in underwater drones, reshaping naval warfare. The race to build uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUV) is on, including in China and the US.

China's UUV-300 series of extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUVs) are intended to be armed and exported, underscoring Beijing's determination to develop autonomous underwater weapons. The UUV-300's quoted range is 834 km. China showcased an advanced underwater drone, the 'UUV300CB', at an exhibition in Malaysia in May 2024. These UUVs will be capable of carrying sea mines and smaller UUVs and of firing lightweight torpedoes, as demonstrated by its UUV300CD variant, and may also have the potential to carry and launch missiles.

China's UUV-300 series of extra-large uncrewed underwater vehicles (XLUUVs) are intended to be armed and exported, underscoring Beijing's determination to develop autonomous underwater weapons.

Media reports of June 12, 2024 have stated that the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is set to collaborate with Pune-based Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt Ltd to develop underwater-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (ULUAVs) for rapid, safe, and autonomous deployment from a moving submarine; offering significant surprise advantage and facilitate discreet surveillance missions, enabling submarines to monitor potential threats without exposing their location.

Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt Ltd was awarded the technology development contract under DRDO's Technology Development Fund (TDF) after being selected from 17 competing firms through a competitive bidding process. The Defence Research & Development Laboratory (DRDL) of the DRDO will support Sagar Defence in developing ULUAV technology. Sagar Defence, which previously created a maritime spotter drone for the Indian Navy, signed the agreement in the presence of DRDL Director Dr G.A.S. Murthy and Indian Navy officials.

Mridul Babbar, Director & Vice-President of Business Development, Sagar Defence, said, "This ULUAV technology is going to be highly advanced. Only a few countries in the world possess ULUAVs but they are not highly advanced. Like the US ULUAV has a range of 7 km and its endurance is for 30 minutes. However, DRDO has entrusted us to develop a ULUAV that will have a longer endurance of more than one hour and will have a range of over 20 km. And we are the first to develop this technology in India. This ULUAV will be for maritime and underwater domain awareness and will be used for data gathering. This will be expandable, and in the future, weapons can also be installed on it."

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is set to collaborate with Pune-based Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt Ltd to develop underwater-launched unmanned aerial vehicles (ULUAVs).

Sagar CEO Captain Nikunj Parashar said, "This contract not only underscores the trust and confidence that DRDO has in our capabilities but also serves as a testament to the strides we are making in defence innovation". ULUAVs are autonomous aerial drones capable of being deployed discreetly and swiftly from submarines, offering a significant advantage in surveillance missions.

Concurrently, news reports of June 17, 2024 have said that Northern Command has signed a deal with the Hyderabad-based Lokesh Machines Limited for supply of the 'ASMI' 9x19mm Submachine Guns (SMGs) developed by the company. The contract is valued at ₹4.26 crore. This marks the first instance of a domestic private manufacturer successfully securing an order from the Indian Army for a 100 per cent indigenously designed and manufactured small arm.

Asmi – India's first indigenous 9mm Machine Pistol has been jointly developed by DRDO and Indian Army

Earlier, Lokesh Machines, a leading manufacturer of machine tools and auto components, had jointly developed the "ASMI" 919 Machine Pistol, jointly with the Indian Army and the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) under the DRDO, which represents the first private-public partnership in the small arms segment to achieve such success. Lokesh Machines Limited has delivered the "ASMI" 9x19mm Machine Pistols to the Assam Rifles and the National Security Guard (NSG).

Northern Command has signed a deal with Hyderabad-based Lokesh Machines Limited for the supply of the 'ASMI' 9x19mm Submachine Guns (SMGs) developed by the company

Baaz - a fully autonomous mini Unmanned Fixed Wing aircraft

Northern Command has also procured 'Baaz', a mini drone from the indigenous firm 'Om Systems'. Baaz is a fully autonomous Mini Unmanned Fixed Wing aircraft. It is capable of carrying a 200 gram payload or camera without gimbal and is ideally suited for survey work. The payload can be a day still camera or a multi-spectral camera. OM systems had successfully demonstrated 'Baaz' dropping two grenades.

Baaz is electrically powered with a very low dB level. For ease of operation the aircraft is capable of hand launch and normal ground landing. The UAV airframe is made of Elasto-Polymer foam and Carbon Fibre Composites. Capabilities of Baaz include: fully autonomous from take-off to landing; can be programmed for 300 waypoints; can loiter over the subject at any way point; has manual over ride at any stage; can be 'guided' to specific location during flight by clicking over map; can activate/deactivate any payload from the GCS; auto payload activation on reaching the way point; fail safe built in. Will 'RTL' if link is lost, will 'land' if battery is low; GCS switchable navigation lights. It is being used extensively in Northern Command.