New Delhi: At a time when India is all set to procure Predator-B drones from the United States, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has asked Indian startups too to develop unmanned drones capable of carrying and firing missiles.
Speaking at the launch of Defence India Startup Challenge in Bengaluru on Saturday, Sitharaman said that drones are fast becoming a massive asset for armed forces around the world and that Indian armed forces should not be left wanting. "Today unmanned drones with missiles on them are the envy of many countries. I already get the feeling that those are not beyond us to produce," she was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. "You won`t lose your skilled manpower if you can remote control operations to finish your targets."
With 'Make in India' in mind, Sitharaman urged for Indian startups to rise to the challenge of developing such drones for the safety and security of the country. She also said that her ministry is open to ideas in all forms. "We are not going to disqualify startups in anything you want to approach us with. Whether it is a bid, tender or suo motu proposal. All three avenues are open for startups."
India is looking to equip its armed forces with a number of high-tech unmanned drones and an American offer its armed version of Guardian drones came as a shot in the arm earlier in the year. If things do fall into place, India could be the first country outside NATO alliance to be sold an armed drone by Washington. Talks for the Predator drone - used primarily for maritime surveillence - has also been on for some time.