Indian Army has elaborated research requirements for drones as part of Surveillance and Targeting Systems, where drones are to form part of the multi-layer sensor grid network.
The recent loss of brave soldiers, with the Commanding Officer leading from the front, is the true exemplary valour of Indian Army, but also an unfortunate consequence of continued terrorist attacks on our country. Mostly every effective search mission launched by Police or Indian Army to find terrorists results into the terrorists finding themselves trapped in a corner. Many a times, the local support available to the terrorists provide them awareness on the movement of the soldiers and help them escape.
“Keeping a close watch on these terrorists from a height using Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) (or aerial drones) can detect the intent of the holed up terrorists earlier, provide real-time information and help with the rescue plan for the civilian population caught up in the crossfire,” opines Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert.
“There is an urgent need for elaborate guidelines and procedures, along with standard drone training for exploitation of drones as part of Concept of Operations,” he suggests.
Weaponized UAS for Search & Attack
As has been reported by the Financial Express Online, the Indian Army has been considering the utilization of weaponized UAS for Search and Attack operations for some time now.
“The drones have the flexibility of flying close to the target location, and this feature is highly beneficial especially when terrorists take up positions in the upper floors of high-rise buildings. With the use of weaponized drones (i.e. drones with explosive carrying capabilities), the hostile target itself can be annihilated. The weaponized drones are highly specialized flying gadgets, which have a secure remote triggering mechanism for the onboard explosive. In such operations, the drone too is sacrificed with the explosive going off, and is therefore popularly called ‘Kamikaze’ drones,” explains the C4I expert.
Such drones are always definite assets since, with their support, precious human lives of the soldiers are not endangered to a large extent especially in a close-quarter skirmish.
According to Kulshreshtha, “In such events, a small drone can maintain a visual on the target, has an ability to navigate so as to annihilate the target using onboard explosive. The explosives can remotely be triggered as soon as the target comes within Kamikaze’s radius of the kill. In case the target is moving (like running or in a moving vehicle etc.), such drones can also carry out a limited distance pursuit and ensure target elimination.”
Advantages of using drones
When house to house search is in progress, drones can be perched at a vantage point to ensure real-time situational picture of the dynamically evolving circumstances. Outlining the advantages of using drones, he says, “The drones have the flexibility to re-align and get in the best position to detect or attack the target, even with a possibility to create a diversionary explosion to dislodge the terrorists. A well-perched drone with a focus on the target can closely monitor terrorist movements with its day or night Infra-Red (IR) camera payload.”
“Further, a weaponized drone can be immediately dispatched to engage the target at the right opportune moment, while ground manoeuvre continues to progress. Drones can also keep watch or intercept various possible escape routes of the terrorist with a deadly consequence. As has been seen earlier, the dynamics of the ground situation is always unpredictable and may vary from thick jungle foliage to a congested housing lane.”
Drones for Surveillance and Targeting
Indian Army has elaborated research requirements for drones as part of Surveillance and Targeting Systems, where drones are to form part of the multi-layer sensor grid network. The aim is to provide the Force Commander with real or near-real-time Situational Awareness information focused on the region of interest.
For this, various types of UAS systems are being considered like:- UAVs/UCAVs carrying payload like Electro-optic sensors, Electronic Warfare gadgets, Data-link repeaters etc.
Micro/Mini/Nano drones for covert reconnaissance missions, surveillance, intrusion detection and border patrol.
Even the smaller drones are capable of carrying special payloads like day or night cameras, explosives etc.
Swarms of Nano drones are being considered for Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft (CICADA), where these nano drones are dropped from an aeroplane to glide down to the target zone. This is used for Personal Reconnaissance so as to monitor enemy movements by transmitting back target data, pictures and videos to a close-by mobile Base Station.