New Delhi: 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," sources 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.