Indian Navy plans unmanned aircraft to tackle piracy

KOCHI: The Indian Navy is mooting deployment of unmanned surface and sub-surface vehicles to strengthen its anti-piracy operations. The Navy has submitted its qualitative requirements for a ship-track-and-trail vehicle to the Vizag-based Naval Science and Technological Laboratory ( NSTL) for "tackling non-state threats and players".

GULL 36 Seaplane UAV
For illustration. GULL 36 Seaplane UAV

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The move is to develop an unmanned vehicle that can be deployed from a naval ship to recce waters in an operational area for suspicious movement and presence of hostile elements. "Navy's idea is to develop an unmanned seaplane type of vehicle. They want it to do aerial as well as sea-surface surveillance," a senior defence source told TOI.

The naval staff qualitative requirement (NSQR), a mandatory expression of interest that precedes any defence development or procurement programme, wants the vehicle to have an endurance of eight hours. "Two types are being designed. One will be a smaller version weighing 1.5 tonne and the second one weighing five tonne. The latter obviously will be able to carry more payload for reconnaissance,'' sources said.

The Indian Navy's initiative is based on the success of unmanned operations of US and Israeli navies. "These vehicles can direct the ship to the exact area where pirates wait for an assault. This would add power to the first strike capability," sources said.

Times of India


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