NEW DELHI: Serious data security concerns over Chinese drones have landed Indian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) manufacturers in a sweet spot. Their made-in-India drones have started getting export orders from rest of the world. Japan’s largest sectoral player, ACSL, has tied up with an Indian company to make here for the world. An increasing number of countries is uncomfortable with many Chinese drone majors having their servers back home while the faith in India is very high. The US, for instance, had last year imposed restrictions on Chinese major DJI and some other companies from there.

“There is tremendous faith in Indian technology and trust in India. We are making in India for the world now and orders have started pouring in from Japan, Asia and the Gulf, among other places. There is a clear intent to eliminate the traditional drone supply chain (read from China),” Arjun Aggarwal, MD of drone major Aerodyne India group, told TOI.

Aerodyne, which has tied up with Japan’s ACSL, currently has a manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu and will shortly open at least two more in other parts of India. “We are now setting up our own battery manufacturing unit in India to tackle the issue of battery shortage faced by the drone industry and ramp up manufacturing,” Aggarwal said.

Tech Eagle founder Vikram Singh said the quality of Indian drones is comparable to the best in the world while their cost is one-fifth to one-eighth of the global counterparts. “We have tied up to export drones to the Gulf and beyond. As of now we make five drones a month, a number we will ramp up to 15 monthly in six months and then a drone a day in a year,” Singh said.

Garuda Aerospace founder-CEO Agnishwar Jayaprakash said there is a “reluctance for Chinese drones” now. “There are data security concerns about them as the same goes back to China where the servers are housed. We have so far got orders for 12,000 drones, mainly for agriculture, from Malaysia, South America, Panama and Africa,” Jayaprakash said.

Three-fourth of the export orders are for agriculture drones and the rest for mapping and inspection. “The Indian agriculture spray market is valued at $3.2 billion as 40 crore acres is under cultivation here. Drones spray insecticides in a much more efficient manner using less chemicals and water and are not harmful to the person spraying the same as there is not physical contact,” Jayaprakash added.

The government through its PLI schemes has provided a major filip to making drones in the country. “Our aim is to see India as the drone hub of the world. Manufacturers here will make in India not just for India but for the world,” Union aviation minister J M Scindia had recently said.