Harop/Harpy Suicide Drones

According to a report by ET, India is keeping a close watch on the high profile Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict that has been replete with dramatic drone footage of air strikes. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said that India has similar capability available – a reference to the Israeli origin Harop/Harpy suicide drones in service – but UAVs are very susceptible to enemy action and have to be part of a larger mix of weapons in any conflict.

Combination of Assets

“There will always be limitations when drones are used to attack in the way they have been used in this conflict. Some will fall to enemy action and a percentage will succeed. One should have a combination of such assets…(but) we cannot plan to win a war with just these,” the Air Chief said in response to a question by ET. “Drones are an important part for surveillance and intelligence gathering. Their role in the build up to a conflict is very important. However, once the conflict starts, they do become susceptible to enemy action, which is a known fact,” he said.

US MQ-9 Reaper

The Defence Ministry has not yet reached any conclusion over procurement of 30 armed drones from US-based General Atomics as the Indian Air Force has raised apprehensions over their usefulness. The deal is valued at approximately $3 billion. With the disputed borders with China and Pakistan active at the same point of time, the Defence Ministry has clearly stated that they are not in a hurry to sanction procurement in the name of emergency. India was earlier looking for procurement of 30 drones from General Atomics. The three services were expected to get 10+10+10 of the MQ-9 Reaper, which has already been approved by US President Donald Trump's administration.

Swarm Technology

Indian Army Vice Chief Lieutenant General S.K. Saini said on October 10 that amongst other threats, drones and UAVs stand out in their innovative employment and destructive potential. "Considering their low cost, multi-use and dense proliferation, the threat will no doubt increase manifold in the years to come," he said. "In this context, third dimension threats may take precedence in the near future, for which we need to plan now. Both hard kill and soft kill counter-drone solutions including swarm technology are the need of the hour," he pointed out.

Unarmed But Dangerous

As Seema Sirohi, columnist for The Economic Times writes, given the border situation with China, India will soon lease two drones from the US government for naval surveillance while the procurement process for the sale of 30 armed predator drones, well, drones on. The two leased drones will not be armed but will have censors. Leasing was seen as the quickest way to get ‘eyes’ on the situation.