A report from NDTV last week confirmed that the Indian military is developing autonomous swarm drones with weapons. Much has been reported that they are being developed by China, Russia and the US, but not by India – until this year.
Earlier this year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) confirmed that the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. developed a killer drone called Wingman. India also confirmed that it is working with the US on the development of attack drones under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
There has been talk for some years about India’s military need for swarm drones and the possibility of using domestic UAV startups, but not much about developing swarm drones with weapons.
Last October, the IAF announced a competition for start-ups to build 50 swarm drones. The winners were awarded a co-production contract for the drones with a military base repair depot for a value of 100 crore INR (USD 14.6 million). However, according to the IAF, these drones should be used for humanitarian and disaster relief (HADR).
Weapon-equipped swarm drones can be fired from fighter jets or transports, travel at over 100 kilometers per hour, and are capable of carrying explosive warheads for suicide bombing on enemy aircraft or other targets. The IAF already has killer drones and has reportedly confirmed an order for 54 Israeli attack drones earlier this year to expand the existing fleet of 110 HAROP drones.
Last week, NDTV reported that a team of members of Hindustan Aeronautics and a Bengaluru-based startup, NewSpace Research and Technologies, is developing its first prototype attack missile, the Air-Launched Flexible Asset (Swarm) or ALFA-S.
The ALFA-S prototype could be ready in two years.