The Varuna drone can also carry a human payload

An Indian firm is negotiating a deal to supply made-in-India drones to the Australian Navy. The drone firm got help from the Indian Navy to develop its products, including the human-carrying 'Varuna' drone which was showcased to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during an event.

“The firm is negotiating the project with the Royal Australian Navy through their local partner to sell them the made-in-India Varuna drones,” senior Navy officials told India Today TV. The Indian Navy has been supporting and pushing the 'Make-in-India' initiative in the defence sector in a big way and has lent support to the private sector in developing their products.

The Indian Navy also placed orders for these drones, planned to be deployed on large-size warships, including the new aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, to carry personnel and cargo.

The Varuna drone, which can carry a human payload, has a range of 25 km and can carry 130 kg payload. It has around 30 minutes of flight time. The drone manufacturer's chief, Nikunj Parashar, confirmed that his firm is in talks with the forces for the sale of drones but did not reveal any details.

However, he said he had received huge support from the Indian Navy in the development of his drones, which are being inducted into the Indian defence services now. The Navy provided its own platforms to help develop the products, he said, adding that his firm could develop a multi-copter named Spotter which can remain airborne for two hours for surveillance with the Navy's help.

It was during one of the industry visits by the Vice Chief of Navy Staff that the defence forces encouraged his firm to work for the military sector and develop a personnel-carrying drone for the Navy, Parashar said. The Navy has been working on the IDex program to promote indigenous defence technologies and this has been a great success for the Navy.

"The prime minister launched 75 challenges. We have really expedited and done this job. We thought that if we have to achieve success, we have to do things differently. We have made our procedures simple so that we can take these cases ahead. We are sure that by August 15, we will achieve our target as promised to PM Modi," Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral SN Ghormade said recently.

The PM has set a target of $5 billion in exports for Indian firms by 2025, which has led to both public and private sector firms making extra efforts to achieve the objective.