- A working prototype of India’s first indigenous technology to search, track and kill enemy drones is ready in Bengaluru.
- The portable prototype uses a radar, and electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors.
- Bringing down a drone using fire power isn’t an option as it can be launched even in cities or densely populated areas.
A working prototype of India’s first indigenous technology to search, track and kill enemy drones is ready in Bengaluru.
With an ever-increasing threat perception — in 2015, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) issued alerts of drone attacks in Delhi and in 2016, the IAF Southern Command had reports of drone and other types of attacks by aerial vehicles — drone attacks cannot be ruled out.
Defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), which has the prototype, is now in talks with user agencies for demonstrations even though no request for proposal (RFP) or request for interest (RFI) has been floated.
At Kalghatgi, former BEL director (R&D), who retired last week, told TOI that BEL has approached user agencies and the first field demo could happen within two months.
While the first potential users of this ground-based system that can be deployed at airstrips, border areas and hilly regions could be the armed forces, it could also be deployed in airports and strategic places like the Parliament. The portable prototype uses a radar, and electro-optical and electromagnetic sensors. “Since it’s a prototype, we developed a low-range product that works in the range of 3-5km. But we can change the radar and increase the range depending on user requirements,” Kalghatgi said.
While it can search and track drones, killing or disabling them is a challenge. Bringing down a drone using fire power isn’t an option as it can be launched even in cities or densely populated areas.
Kalghatgi says: “We have a soft-kill prototype ready and BEL is working closely with Defence Research & Development Organisation on the hard-kill option.”
The soft-kill option has a jammer that can interfere with the drone’s electronics and radio frequency. As these are piloted remotely, they rely on signals from the pilot and jamming prevents her from communicating with the drone. “Our technology can disable a drone in the range of 50 metre to 3km. This can be enhanced based on user needs,” he said. The hard-kill option uses lasers. The DRDO has a classified programme focused on developing laser-based weapons and this is part of it.
K Ramachandra of the National Mission for Micro Air Vehicles (MAV), who is among the scientists working on similar technology since November 2016, said: “This is a great leap. So far we have Israeli and US technologies but BEL’s achievement is good. We’ll try and leverage it.”
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