05:19 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Indian forestry officials hold up unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) during a demonstration.

    Indian Army's Mega Purchase: Surveillance UAVs for Tactical Battle Areas

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    The $670 million contract is intended for local industry. However, a lack of technology and short delivery deadline may force Indian firms to forge partnerships with foreign manufacturers.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — The Indian Army has formally kicked off a $670 million mega purchase plan of short-range UAVs for deployment in the difficult Himalayan terrain to keep tabs on the slightest of movement by foreign forces.

    The UAVs will send real-time inputs in the form of imagery and electronic data with a range of 200 kilometers. These UAVs would be able to fly with an altitude of up to 15,000 feet and can send inputs to fighting formations during operations for at least 10 hours and operates either day or night.

    The system can be equipped with different kinds of surveillance payloads like electro-optical and infrared with laser designators, electronic intelligence, communication payloads, synthetic aperture radar, maritime patrol radar, radio relay, identification of friend or foe, and traffic collision avoidance systems.

    READ MORE: India, Israel Ink Deal for Air Defense System, Radars, UAVs Worth $4.3 Bln

    The formal tender is expected to be issued by January 2018. "Total quantities required is approximately 60 short-range remotely piloted aircraft system along with associated payloads and ground support equipment," the request for information issued on Thursday reads. The army plans to induct 24 platforms by 2022 while the rest will have to be delivered by 2027 by the manufacturer.

    The purchase plan was approved by India's defense ministry in June of this year. Though the RFI has been exclusively issued to Indian manufacturers, the short deadline and unavailability of indigenous technology may force private firms to import technology from the global drone makers.

    "A five-year timeline is reasonable provided the initial process of procurement is drawn up correctly and there are no changes made during the acquisition process," Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Armybrigadier, and defense analyst told Sputnik.

    Given the joint ventures established by private front-runner Indian firms like Alpha Design Technology and Dynamatic Technology with Israel's Elbit Security Systems (ESS) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) respectively, the Israeli drone makers are likely to edge out others in this capital procurement.

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