The advanced, unmanned technology that supports increased payload is expected to bring about a significant change in logistical operations, expediting the delivery of larger quantities of essential supplies such as arms and ammunition, life-saving medicines etc., to armed forces deployed in high-altitude and other risky terrains.
According to the scientists at the Centre for Aero-Space Research, Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Anna University, the enhanced load-carrying capacity would substantially increase the volume of crucial supplies and comprehensively address the logistical demands.
The Army is now relying more on traditional methods such as mule transportation or helicopter services for the delivery of supplies.
“The reduced dependence on traditional methods and the deployment of drones with higher payload capacity would streamline the supply chain process and mitigate potential delays. This technology will contribute to the efficiency of the Indian armed forces in fulfilling their logistical requirements,” K. Senthil Kumar, Professor & Director, Centre for Aero-Space Research, said on Monday.
Orders Placed For 500 Drones
Development of the unmanned systems with higher carrying capacity comes close on the heels of the university successfully developing a drone prototype capable of transporting essential commodities (weighing up to 15 kg) within a flying radius of 10 kms. This achievement has been a significant leap forward in utilising cutting-edge technology to overcome logistical obstacles and support soldiers in challenging environments, Dr. Kumar said.
“The Army has placed an order for procuring 500 drones each with 15-kg payload. Implementing advanced drone technology to support the well-being of soldiers stationed in unfriendly terrains and hard-to-reach locations will be a significant milestone for the armed forces. The focus is particularly directed to the Line of Control in North Kashmir,” the professor added.
In 2019, Army officials had suggested that mules be replaced by drones for delivering supplies due to the delay. The armed forces hired thousands of mules for moving goods to defence personnel stationed along the international border or other remotely located strategic camps. “The mules can hardly carry 10-kg each and take about two days to reach the destinations tucked about 10 kms in the hills. During winters, flying helicopters is often difficult due to inclement weather conditions and visibility issues. After three years of research, we have successfully delivered the customised drones,” he said.
Dr. Senthil Kumar said a team of defence officials had visited MIT recently and wanted drones with a carrying capacity of 80 kgs for shifting injured or sick personnel from forward stations to the base camp. “Research is on to design an unmanned system with payload of 80-kg, which will be the first drone-based air ambulance,” Dr. Kumar concluded.