An illustration of a drone swarm by US Air Force Research Laboratory
Hyderabad based aviation equipment manufacturer Zen Technologies said it received a Rs 155 cr contract to a supply an anti-drone defence system to Indian Air Force.
Details of the order were not disclosed, but the company said it would make the supplies over a 12-month period. Zen Technologies specializes in Defence Training Solutions, drones and anti-drones.
Drone defence systems have become crucial for India as the Chinese are learnt to be creating a massive, AI-enabled and centrally controlled ‘drone cloud’ to be deployed on its borders.
Such an AI-based unit will be able to send lakhs of intelligent and armed drones over the border, and these can easily overwhelm India’s current border defence system due to their sheer numbers and unpredictable trajectories.
Currently, India’s border defence system is geared towards enemy aircrafts — such as jets — missiles, limited range and fixed trajectory artillery fire, tanks and of course, ground troops.
However, an attack carried out using lakhs and lakhs of drones would completely overwhelm this system, as it is simply not geared for such an attack.
Lakhs of these drones can then easily enter Indian territory and wipe out India’s border defence forces within minutes, allowing a ground invasion to take place virtually unopposed.
Such drones will also make most of the existing missile defence systems, such as Israel’s Iron Dome, obsolete, as these systems are designed for intercepting fixed path projectiles, while an autonomous drone can travel in any pattern and also take evasive action against incoming shells.
Currently, the US, China, Russia, Israel and the UK are expected to have developed the most advanced drone attack systems.
India woke up to the drone danger after a drone attacked the Indian Air Force station in Jammu two months ago.
In fact, the latest agreement with Zen Technologies comes a day after Indian Navy signed a contract with state-owned defence equipment maker Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) to develop and supply the first Indian made naval anti-drone system (NADS).
Zen Tech said it received the contract from Indian Air Force in the face of stiff competition from foreign companies partnering with Indian companies.
“Zen Technologies emerged as the lead runner on the back of superior product quality at at competitive pricing.
“This is Zen Technologies’ first significant order in the anti-drone space, and the company remains confident of securing additional orders in the future,” it said.
Ashok Atluri, Chairman and Managing Director of the company, said the contract is a significant step toward making India a drone and counter-drone technology export hub.
India has traditionally never trusted local companies’ abilities to supply competent defence equipment and weapons, and has always procured these from foreign vendors, such as those based in Russia, USA, France and Israel.
However, the current government has initiated a policy of encouraging Indian companies to get into defence manufacturing.
“These orders placed on Indian companies can have a multiplier effect on the Indian equipment manufacturers eco-system because products like anti-drone systems have a high export potential to friendly foreign countries. Anti-drone systems and training solutions are in high demand in many countries,” added Atluri.