The Indian Army reportedly placed an order for nearly 100 explosive-laden SkyStriker loitering munitions.
The drones will be supplied by a joint venture between Bengaluru-based Alpha Design and Israeli firm Elbit Systems. Alpha owns 51% of the JV. The contract valued INR 100 Crore ($13.7 million) was signed on September 1, the Times of India (TOI) reported Friday.
SkyStriker is capable of long-range precise tactical strikes. The loitering munition has 5kg warhead installed inside the fuselage. Its electric propulsion offers a minimal acoustic signature, allowing covert operations at low altitude and has a range of 100km.
Col (retd) HS Shankar, CMD of Alpha Design, told TOI: “Location details (GPS) will be loaded onto the drone before launch. Upon launching, it will hover around the area, pick up the target, relay the information back to ground control equipment and strike only after getting clearance. Ground control can change targets after the launch, and even call it back in case a mission has to be aborted.”
The army has taken the lead in swarm drones–considered as the future of warfare–by placing an INR 200 Crore ($27.4 million) order on Indian startups to supply a system capable of surveillance, electronic warfare and kinetic attack. Bengaluru-based startup NewSpace Research and Tech has been selected for the contract, sources told Economic Times.
NewSpace Research is also working with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for a futuristic air-launched swarm drone system, called Combat Air Teaming System (CATS), which envisages a manned aircraft capable of launching multiple drones to carry out high-risk missions, including taking down of enemy air defenses.
Alpha Design Bags Two More Military Deals
The Indian Air Force has also asked Alpha Design to deliver six Very High Frequency radars for INR 200 Crore ($27.4 million) to upgrade P18 radars procured in 1980 and 1990s. Alpha will also supply around 60 Identification of Friend-or-Foe (IFF) systems that will be integrated with ground radars. This contract is worth INR 80 Crore ($10.9 million).