DRDO's Centre for High Energy Systems and Sciences (CHESS) has issued an RFI for the operation and field maintenance & repair for a fixed wing UAV to be used for the demonstration of Directed Energy Weapon (DEW) systems.

Fixed Wing Unmanned Aerial Systems (FWUAS) will be used for various field experiments and demonstration of capabilities of DEW systems, being developed by CHESS. It is proposed to award a job work for operation and field maintenance and repair of the Fixed wing Unmanned Aerial System (FWUAS)  during such experimentations and demonstrations of the DEW systems.

Beam delivery system of Aditya DEW used for representation

Scope of Work

The agency shall be required to safely operate and attend to the on-field maintenance and repair of the following FWUAS at the specified location.{FWµAS will be provided by CHESS.

What Is Directed Energy Weapon (DEW)?

The future weapon system that is likely to change the course of war is the Directed Energy Weapon (DEW), which is created on electromagnetic pulse effects, in addition to a variety of other means, without a nuclear blast. DEWs can be termed as the apex in weapons technology innovatory, apt for dealing with all kinds of asymmetric challenges, including unmanned and light aircraft. DEWs are capable of destroying a target by emitting and transferring extreme levels of energy towards the target. The energy emitted by DEWs can be available in the form of electromagnetic radiation, microwaves, lasers and masers, and particles with mass. DEWs encompass two distinct fields; high-energy lasers and high power microwaves.

Using laser beams and other concentrated sources, DEWs are the future in so far as military laser (acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation") technologies are concerned. Of these, laser weapons by far lead the DEWs pack. The precision of a laser beam weapon is unrivalled primarily owing to its speed, akin to that of light. DEWs are fast racing towards being the most sought after option in comparison to conventional projectile weapons including missile systems, given their accuracy as mentioned earlier, and the range of these weapons, which is far greater than any conventional munitions.

The applicability of laser weapons, more specifically against aerial and naval targets is significant, although the range is subject to meeting certain vital variables including atmospheric conditions and availability of power. Laser weapons can produce a series of strikes, which can be limited only by its power supply. From a military application point of view, a laser weapon is required to generate at the least, a 100-Kilowatt beam. More importantly, for targeting anti-ship missiles, the laser device is required to generate at least one Megawatt of power.

The DEWs aim without using a projectile, and are far more cost effective in comparison to the huge cost estimates surrounding a single missile launch. With military technology innovation on fast track mode, laser weapons are the tool of the future, albeit having to overcome certain looming challenges. These include, determining the final potency of the beam, which gets affected considerably by atmospheric conditions such as clouds, rain, and smog. The laser device requires an expedient source of abundant electricity generation, in addition to efficient cooling equipment that would aid in avoiding any damage caused by overheating says Dr. Monika Chansoria a senior fellow at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

India's DEW Path

While the DRDO has identified DEWs as among key thrust technologies for the next decade, the effort to develop and transform superior technology into affordable and critical military capabilities, decisive factors such as affordability, suitability, dual use, technology base, and modular design will be uphill tasks. Perhaps the greatest technical challenge for the DRDO would come in the form of finding reliable and affordable system integration meeting military platform requirements. Presently, India’s DEWs system are in the research and development stage, and the earliest timeline for them to move out from the laboratory to the battlefield for operational testing and subsequent deployment, going by current trends, should likely be before this decade is out.