- India has announced that a novel “Drone Show” comprising 1,000 swarm drones will light up the sky for about 10 minutes during the Beating Retreat Ceremony on 29 January 2022.
- It has been designed, conceptualised and produced indigenously under the “Make in India” initiative by Botlab Dynamics, and has been sponsored by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and the Department of Science & Technology (DST), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY).
- With a display of 1,000 indigenously produced swarm drones, India would become the fourth nation to achieve such a feat, making it a front row actor with a strong foothold in the field of drone technology.
- The US, Russia and China have carried out such swarm drone displays in the past.
- On 15 January 2021, the Indian Army had demonstrated its drone power with a display of Kamikaze mock attacks and first-aid delivery during theArmy Day Parade.
- The 75 indigenously developed drones had displayed the swarming capabilities through an array of Artificial Intelligence enabled offensive missions.
- This display contributed 13 targets at hostile armour mortar positions with troop concentrations, terror hideouts, radar sites and helipads that were brought down.
- The drones were synchronised with satellite feeds and area correlation technologies. The remarkable thing about these swarm drones was that they were a heterogeneous swarm equipped with a quadcopter, a six-rotor mothership drone and small quadcopters with explosives.
- The drones called Air Launched Flexible Asset–Swarm (ALFA–S), developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Newspace Research & Technologies (NRT) Private Limited, are fully networked through electronic data links and are capable of detecting surface to air missile units, enemy radars and aircraft on the ground.
- This project was pushed considering China’s deployment of surface to air missiles at the Ladakh border.
- Another demonstration of a fully operational decentralised swarm of 25 drones was carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at a three-day defence function in Jhansi in November 2021 to mark the 75th year of Indian Independence.
- Though India is a relatively new entrant into this field, compared to Western powers, it appears set to make rapid progress in developing indigenous drone capabilities.
- However, the first procurement of drones by the Indian Army dates to the 1990s when it acquired UAVs from Israel.
- It was first used during the Kargil War in 1999 for photo-reconnaissance.
- The DRDO has also been actively working in the development of drones, and the first fully functional unmanned drone system, Rustom-1, took flight in 2009.
- Recently, India has further extended its drone capabilities in collaboration with the US via the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), and in 2021, it signed a $3 billion deal for procurement of 30 Predator/ MQ 9 drones that have the ability to carry out long-range precision airstrikes.
Source The Hindu