SP's LandForces - - SP’S EXCLUSIVES -

Con­sid­ered one of the most com­bat-proven tac­ti­cal sur­veil­lance mini drones in cur­rent op­er­a­tions, the AeroViron­ment RQ-11 Raven is not new to the In­dian armed forces. In 2009, dur­ing the Yudh Ab­hyas at Babina in Ut­tar Pradesh, the In­dian Army got a first­hand look at Raven op­er­a­tions in a com­bat sce­nario. US Army­men from the 14th Cav­alry Reg­i­ment, Stryke­horse, 2nd Stryker Brigade Com­bat Team, 25th In­fantry Di­vi­sion, demon­strated use of the RQ-11 to sol­diers and of­fi­cers from the In­dian Army’s 94th Ar­moured Brigade and other units un­der the 31st Ar­moured Di­vi­sion. The demon­stra­tions were part of pre­lim­i­nary fa­mil­iari­sa­tion both of the drone tech­nol­ogy it­self, as well as com­bat tac­tics in­volv­ing hand-launched sur­veil­lance drones, a ca­pa­bil­ity still un­avail­able to the In­dian Army’s in­fantry. While a slew of re­quire­ments have popped up over the years for hand-launched mini and mi­cro sur­veil­lance un­manned air sys­tems, none have been in­ducted. While sev­eral in­dige­nous pro­grammes ex­ist, the US sees the RQ-11 Raven as a ‘low hang­ing fruit’ for co-pro­duc­tion in In­dia un­der the am­bi­tious De­fence Tech­nol­ogy and Trade Ini­tia­tive (DTTI) pushed by the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion. The in­fantry’s re­quire­ments of such tech­nol­ogy, and the fact that it is per­ceived as an easy de­liv­er­able -- the US does not have strict ex­port con­trols on the very modestly ca­pa­ble Raven, as it does with higher per­for­mance un­manned sys­tems like the Global Hawk and Preda­tor -- and will be look­ing to use it as a door-opener to other, more com­plex co-devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion un­der­stand­ings. Pri­mar­ily used by the US mil­i­tary (in­clud­ing the US Air Force, Marines and Spe­cial Forces), the Raven has been ex­ported widely, with close to 20,000 air­frames de­liv­ered to date.

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