A Bengaluru-based start-up is developing India’s first attack swarm drone prototype in conjunction with state-owned contractors Hindustan Aeronautics
A report from NDTV last week confirmed that India’s military is developing weaponised autonomous swarm drones. It has been much publicised that these are being developed by China, Russia and the U.S., but not so India — until this year.
Earlier this year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed that state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was developing a killer ‘Wingman’ drone. India also confirmed that it was working with the U.S. on the development of attack drones under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
There’s been talk about India’s military need for swarm drones for a couple of years now and the possibility of leveraging home grown UAV startups, but not much buzz about the development of weaponised swarm drones.
Last October, the IAF announced a competition for startups to build 50 swarm drones. The winners stood to get a contract to co-produce the drones with a military Base Repair Depot towards a INR 100 core ($14.6m) order. However, according to the IAF, these drones were to be deployed for Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations.
Weaponised swarm drones can be launched by fighter aircraft or transports, can travel at speeds of over 100 kilometres per hour and are capable of carrying explosive warheads for ‘suicide’ attacks on enemy aircraft or other targets. The IAF already has killer drones and reportedly confirmed an order for 54 Israeli attack drones earlier this year, to add to its existing inventory of 110 HAROP drones.
Last week, NDTV reported that a team comprised of members from Hindustan Aeronautics and a Bengaluru-based start-up NewSpace Research and Technologies are developing their first attack swarm drone prototype: the Air-Launched Flexible Asset (Swarm) or ALFA-S.
The ALFA-S prototype could be ready in two years.
A version of this article was originally published by Carrington Malin in Asia AI News daily email newsletter on 13 July 2019.