Drones are modernizing the Indian Army. Here’s how.

ideaForge cracked a stellar deal with the Indian Army for supplying drones worth ₹145 crores ($20 million). This is a significant step in the direction of ‘modernization’ for the military. The drone-deal would give the Indian Army an edge with live visual and thermal terrain surveillance, infiltration/exfiltration detection, mission reconnaissance, and real-time counter-intelligence.

Navin Navlani, General Manager, ideaForge, had this to say, “This particular case (deal) is an epitome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘AtmaNirbhar’ Bharat. Having a birds’-eye-view (with ideaForge drones) of the regions would ensure that the troops avoid any future ‘Galwan’ type incidents.”

ideaForge beat many national and international contenders to mark this deal with the Indian Army. After rigorous trials, which took ideaForge’s UAVs through the perilous desert heat and also the punishing mountainous altitudes. Many of these contenders fell through in terms of manageability, portability, encryption, compatibility (etc.) testing.

This deal is momentous for the Indian Army and country’s indigenous defence tech industry. There’s much to observe and absorb here. This deal, along with some other factors, indicates a positive shift in the way the Indian Army conducts defence procurement.

Evolving defence tech application and resource-multiplication

India has the largest standing army in the world. The country is the 3rd largest military spender in the world. The country is set to further increase this spend in the financial year 2021-22 with a keen eye on powering the ‘modernization’ of the military. One of the key evolution or transformation points is the use of UAVs for strategic Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) requirements.

Before the active use of these drones, the battalions would use stationary CCTV units, motion sensors and scouts for ISR. However, these tactics were inherently restrictive in terms of range, perspective and usability. Moreover, the scouts often suffered health concerns due to harsh weather surveillance duties.

The recent skirmishes at Galwan could have been avoided if the troops had on-hand live-ISR enabling drones. As the Indian soldiers worked with limited surveillance and reconnaissance (compared to drone-level ISR), they were taken by surprise to find enemy forces ‘dug-in’ to sensitive terrain. This further complicated the ensuing clashes. As mentioned before, drones could have tipped the scenario in India’s favour.

Drones don’t just overcome these restrictions but also raise the current ISR quality multi-fold. Drones can tirelessly survey large acres of terrain in quick time, with live (and secure) feedback for fast decision-making.

The commanding officers, in battalions or theatre commands, can now have the control of auto-surveillance drones. These drones, even on auto-pilot, can spot camouflaged enemy movement. This multiplies the vigilance and cuts down the reaction time along sensitive terrain patches.
The drones amplify the abilities of each soldier. They give stealthy and critical reconnaissance during active missions. These drones move silently, smoothly and essentially undetected across target locations. The high-resolution visual and thermal imaging can give a live account of every barrel, person, vehicle, weapon cache, etc. at the location. They can also virtually mark and follow moving targets.

All of these elements enhance the efficiency of ground-forces, making drones the ideal strategic and execution partners for the Indian Army.

Indian companies beating international tech on merit

In the past, when we spoke of progressive defence technology, we often deferred to international companies. However, the current status is quite different. Companies like ideaForge have orchestrated a reversal of trends, wherein world-beating tech is built right here in India.
ideaForge’s current deal with the Army is a testament to this shift in trends. The company outperformed tough international competition to emerge victorious, entirely on merit without any protectionist policies.

It’s no longer about only meeting criteria. Indian companies are moving above and beyond to raise standards and set new benchmarks. ideaForge also the collective defence w.r.t. tactical drone applications. These drones boasted of high-endurance, even in toughest conditions. They were stable, robust, fast and easy to carry/handle/deploy.

Indigenous defence tech – Building a superior front and ecosystem

In mid-2020 the government, MoD, Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) and Indian Army sought progressive solutions to this. One concern was the long defence procurement procedures. Considering the increasing tension along the Line of Control (LoC) and Line of Actual Control (LAC), MoD decided to issue Emergency Procurement Power to the Indian Army along with the implementation of a Fast-Track Procurement (FTP). These functions eventually enabled the future-facing ₹145 crore deal with ideaForge.

These drones are key to building a truly ‘dynamic’ defence ecosystem wherein all the services have real-time intelligence of all enemy movement, helping them make key decisions at the right time.

One of the key benefits of these drones is the secure and live-feed transmission to any remote receiving device, anywhere in the world. This means that the Lieutenant General at the Northern Command can be in-sync with all regional developments within moments. Similarly, all key strategic partners can view the secure (live) feed for effective coordination and joint action.

Furthermore, this totally ‘indigenous’ drone tech ensures that the country’s top tech is primarily utilized by the country’s troops. Imagine utilizing a Chinese drone to survey the LAC. Given the politico-military set-up between the nations, there is a natural inclination towards indigenous defence tech.

Let’s simplify the points raised in this article.

1. ideaForge’s deal with the Indian Army signals an evolution in military modernization and abilities-multiplication.
2. The deal also underlines the fact that an Indian company beat all international competition on merit without any protectionist policy whatsoever.
3. This indigenous drone tech, which boosts troop-efficiencies and has beat the global competition in rigorous trials, (hence) offers a distinct and unmatched edge to the Indian Army.

In the end, these advanced defence-tech initiatives would save the lives of countless soldiers and regional civilian. All of these elements help further solidify the defence ecosystem and the frontline.

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