Seeking to enhance its surveillance capabilities on its warships, the Indian Navy (IN) has now announced a global competition for procuring ‘Ship-Borne Unmanned Aerial Vehicles’ (UAV) that can augment various patrolling and search-related tactics on its vessels.
The navy is planning to acquire a total of 50 shipborne drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions as part of its effort to boost maritime security, says a report in PTI. "We want to have such a capability and want to know what kinds of products are available in the market," defence sources said.
At present, the navy operates two squadrons of Israeli- origin Heron and Searcher Mk-II UAVs which are based in Kochi and Porbandar.
The Naval force had recently issued a request for information (RFI) seeking details about naval shipborne unmanned aerial system (NSUAS). It feels that with such drones, the range of the machines can be increased.
Boeing firm Insitu, which has had preliminary conversations about the ScanEagle with India for a few years now, continues with the pitch. A prospective competition could include the Airbus Tanan
and Textron Aerosonde as well.
The smaller UAVs launched from ships increases the vessels’ surveillance range. They also enhance the ship’s communication with other friendly vessels by relaying signals, especially from the Rukmani, the dedicated naval communications satellite. It is part of a larger intertwining communications network in a naval manoeuvre coordinating with other aircraft, ships and satellites.