To better arm its troops fighting insurgents in the border state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian Army is buying 20 man-portable, mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can be deployed to gather intelligence and mount surveillance.
The mini-UAVs are being bought by the Udhampur-based Northern Army Command. Earlier this month, it issued a tender open to global original equipment manufactuters.
Sources in the Northern Army Command said the mini-UAVs will augment the Israeli UAVs that the over three lakh troops in Jammu and Kashmir already use.
"The tender was issued earlier this month and we expect the mini-UAV manufacturers to respond by the beginning of September this year. After perusal of the proposals, the orders will be placed for the 20 mini-UAVs required at present," souces said.
The procurement is being made under the Northern Army Commander's special financial powers as "the quantity is less and costs low", the source said.
The mini-UAV that the troops will get will weigh less than 10 kg and can be transported on the shoulders of a trooper.
The mini-UAV will have cameras, including an infrared one, for night use. It also comes equipped with recording devices and sensors for mounting surveillance.
"We have asked for mini-UAVs that can be assembled by the troops themselves within 20 minutes and deployed for about an hour over a specific area of about five-km radius," sources said.
The mini-UAVs will be propelled by an electric motor and hence it will be literally noise-free once it attains a height of 500 metres above ground level. This will help it avoid detection.
The ceiling for this flying machine will be 1,000 metres above ground level. It will have a cruise speed of about 40 knots or over 70 kmph.
Indian armed forces are at present using about 100 Searcher-II and 60 Heron UAVs, both from the Israeli stable.
India is also in the process of developing indigenous UAVs such as Nishant and Rustom.