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India points to gains in swarm technologies

The Indian Army has highlighted its growing ties with local industry in efforts to integrate swarming technologies for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

In mid-December, the Indian Army completed a live demonstration of a swarming exercise featuring 75 indigenously developed UAVs, said the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

It added that during the exercise, which was part of an Indian Army parade in New Delhi, the UAVs “executed an array of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled simulated offensive missions and close support tasks”.

While the MoD did not disclose further details about the swarming exercise, which is thought to be one of the biggest that the Indian Army has undertaken, it did outline how the event reflects its growing ties with small technology businesses.

“This demonstration is a recognition of the Indian Army’s steady embrace of emerging and disruptive technologies to transform itself from a manpower-intensive [force] to a technology-enabled force to meet future security challenges,” said the MoD in a statement.

It added, “The Indian Army is investing heavily into AI, autonomous weapon systems, quantum technologies, robotics, cloud computing, and algorithm warfare to achieve a convergence between the Indian Army’s warfighting philosophies and the military attributes of these technologies.”

The Indian Army exercise was facilitated through its partnership with the privately owned Bangalore-based firm Newspace Research and Technologies. The company is developing swarm technologies through an agreement it signed with state-owned enterprise Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in February 2020.

Newspace Research and Technologies, formed in 2017, has outlined an intention to invest in technologies including swarms, unmanned systems, robotics, GPS-denial systems, augmented and virtual reality, and AI.

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