An Indian Army requirement for approximately 600 sets of mini-UAVs is attracting interest from various manufacturers, who must partner with Indian companies to comply with the government’s “Make in India” industrial strategy. The Directorate General of Infantry has issued a request for information (RFI) that will be followed by a request for proposals by late 2016.
Some estimates indicate China plans to produce upwards of 41,800 land- and seabased unmanned systems, worth about $10.5 billion, between 2014 and 2023.
Russia plans to invest $10 billion in unmanned systems for its armed forces through 2020.
The United States military currently has more than 10,000 drones.
The volume of drones is going to increase by 100 to thousands of times by 2030 (for all types of drones) and the capabilities at each level of drone will vastly increase.
The US air force budget is about $200 billion and the world air force budget (including the USA) is about $600 billion. Eventually unmanned drones could become half of the total air force budget.
Military drones will get bigger with drone carriers (flying aircraft carriers) and smaller robotic flying bullet size devices or insect size devices.
On the commercial side, there will drones for delivering products and long duration drones for distributing internet and wifi. Long duration drones will be able to fly for years instead of days.
In 2010, the entire global defense and security UAV market — including platforms and services — was worth $4.7 billion. In 2015, it grew to $5.9 billion. IHS expects it to reach $11.1 billion by 2024.
The US makes it more difficult for countries to buy US drones with a range of more than 300 km and can carry more than 500 kg.
A world of proliferated drones is emerging. In spite of over ten thousand military drones in the USA, these are early days for drones.
India working with Israel and Boeing and other drone builders
Indian companies will make the bids. The OEMs include two Israeli companies: Aeronautics, maker of the Orbiter mini-UAV, and Elbit Systems, maker of the Skylark. Aeronautics’ partner is not yet known, while Elbit might team with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). AeroVironment will co-develop the Cheel—a version of the Puma—with Dynamatic Technologies. Boeing is with Tata Advanced Systems and might offer the Scan Eagle.
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard also intend to acquire smaller UAVs. The Directorate of Naval Air Staff has issued an RFI for 50 ship-borne UAVs for ISR, monitoring sea lines of communications, search and rescue and anti-piracy roles. Kadet will offer the FlySAR UAV that WB Electronics developed for a Polish mini-synthetic aperture radar test program.
Two Israeli companies and two US firms responded to India’s Directorate General of Infantry’s request for information regarding their UAVs’ capabilities. Companies interested in the project are required to partner with an Indian company, which is part of New Delhi’s Make in India initiative, aimed at encouraging companies to manufacture in the country. Israel’s Aeronautics has not found an Indian partner but another Israeli company Elbit Systems will reportedly work with Hindustan Aeronautics. Boeing is working with Tata Advanced Systems and may offer the ScanEagle, a small, long-range UAV produced by its subsidiary Insitu. California-based AeroVironment has been developing an UAV named Cheel with Indian precision engineering company Dynamatic Technologies
SOURCES – National Defense maganzine, Center for a New American Security, Lux Research, AIN online