Lucknow: The union government will launch a process to set up India’s first testing laboratory in private sector for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and drones in the next two months.

“We will initiate the process to set up the first testing laboratory for UAVs and drones in the private sector in the next two months,” said defence secretary Ajay Kumar while speaking to Hindustan Times on the sidelines of DefExpo 2020 here on Friday.

Kumar said the location and partner for the testing lab would be finalised through request for proposal (RFP). He said the scheme to set up testing laboratory in the private sector had been already approved and the RFP process would be started in the next two months.

“There are about 100 companies in India making the UAVs. The idea is to constantly upgrade to make the UAVs with strong technology by increasing the payload and to make them remain airborne for longer time. As of now all the testing labs are in the public sector. We are creating dedicated facilities for testing for private sector now,” said Kumar.

Under the Defence Testing Infrastructure (DTI) scheme, the union government proposes to set up green field defence testing infrastructure for aerospace and defence related production through a special purpose vehicle (SPV). The union government would encourage participation of MSMEs and startups and the grant in aid under the scheme will be limited to Rs 400 crore. The private sector is expected to set up testing and infrastructure facilities with financial assistance in the form of grant in aid that will not exceed 75% of the project cost. Land availability with the SPV for the project will be the main criteria will be essential and getting lesser assistance may be a criterion for shortlisting.

Kumar said with signing of 200 MoUs the DefExpo 2020 was a big success. He said the state government had also brought out a good defence and aerospace policy with incentives to attract investment in the defence corridor coming up in the state.

It may be mentioned that UAVs top the list of indigenously-developed weaponry being put on display at the DefExpo 2020. The UAVs are designed to counter enemy threats to the fullest. AI Ravat T12, the 12 kg weighted drone or unmanned aerial vehicle is a perfect machine for surveillance and is designed to carry heavier load. AIRavat T90, Alfa-S UAS, Drone Bullet, Mini Black Bird 1280, Rattler-Super Sonic target, Wireless Micro Surveillance Robot, Spy D-Nano, SDE Spectre are other UAVs.