After Ministry of Defence cleared a much awaited US$5.2 billion deal of procuring LCA Tejas Mk1 aircraft, Indian Army too has gone for an indigenous drive by awarding $20 million contract to Indian drone-maker IdeaForge. SWITCH tactical drones offered by IdeaForge has been accepted by the Army and they will be used for various aerial operations conducted by infantry troops and special forces deployed at high altitudes. Read more about the Tejas Mk1A Deal.
Though the Indian Army has not yet revealed the exact numbers it has ordered for, it is estimated that the actual number of machines will be in some hundreds. Weighing around 6.2kgs, SWITCH tactical drones are capable of vertical take-off, conventional flight, 2-hour endurance and surveillance out to 15 km from altitudes of 4,000 meters. It is an indigenous system built to cater for the most demanding surveillance operations of the Indian Forces. This Fixed-Wing VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) UAV can be deployed at high altitude and harsh environments for day and night surveillance in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. It is man-portable and has the highest time on target compared to any other UAV in its class.
The product has gone through various rounds of trials and assessments before making to the top of the list. SWITCH was competing against many Indian and foreign counterparts including Tata Group, Dynamatic Technologies Ltd, VTOL Aviation and Israel’s Elbit Systems. The aforementioned ordered will be delivered to the Indian Army very quickly under the fast track protocol and as per the media reports, it is expected that the deliveries will be completed by next year. The drones will be deployed on priority to Indian Army troops and special forces units deployed across the friction points of eastern Ladakh.
The drone can be operated with support from the Ground Control Station consisting of a high-range communication box, a hand-held controller for full camera control, and laptop/tablet for live video streaming and pre-flight checks. While the Indian armed forces have inducted ideaForge drones in the past, this is by far the biggest single order the company has landed. The fact that the contract is from its single biggest potential customer is major affirmation for the company, the ‘Buy Indian’ ideal and the big validation this will trigger for exports of Indian drone products | Read more about the LCA Tejas.
IdeaForge indigenously develop and manufacture Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) UAVs in India. It has multiple IP’s to its credit, including the then world’s lightest autopilot in 2009. Currently, the organisation claims that it has deployed over 1000 systems and has trained over 1400 pilots in services including Indian Army, Navy, Air-Force, all CAPFs (CRPF, BSF, NSG, etc), State Police Forces, Indian Railways, TAFE, NTPC, DRDO, L&T and many more.