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Indian Navy issues RFI for Shipborne UAVs

An Israel-supplied Searcher UAV of the Indian Navy on display. The MoD seeks to acquire 40 domestically manufactured UAVs for deployment on warships. (Indian Ministry of Defence)

India has announced an intention to procure 40 Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems (NSUAS) for warships more than 100 m in length.

In a request for information (RFI) issued on 29 June, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Navy said that the NSUAS will be used for surveillance tasks, including signals intelligence (SIGINT), target acquisition, reconnaissance, and maritime domain awareness around a naval task group.

Secondary roles would comprise anti-piracy, anti-terrorist activities, and assistance in Search-and-Rescue (SAR), the MoD said in the RFI document.

According to Janes data, the Indian Navy operates three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) squadrons from shore-based locations. Janes data adds that each squadron is very likely equipped with four IAI Heron Mk II and six IAI Searcher II UAVs.

The latest requirement is focused on procuring indigenously developed platforms.

According to the RFI, the bidding companies will also be required to “provide … indigenous software, which are being used for running applications on their equipment/system in their proposal”.

One of the MoD's requirements is that the airframe be made of composite materials. The NSUAS should have a minimum endurance of 10 hours with a basic payload of an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) system, and an automatic identification system (AIS). The aircraft should also have a reserve endurance of 20 minutes.

The RFI said that the NSUAS should also be able to loiter at 5,000 ft at a speed of 100 km/ h.

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