Boeing is pursuing the Indian Navy shipborne UAV opportunity with the RQ-21 Blackjack from its UAS subsidiary Insitu. Based on Insitu’s Integrator. Maritime based systems are operated with the US Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy. The armies of the Netherlands and Poland use it in land-based operations. Boeing displayed the Integrator on its DEFEXPO 2018 display. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
TATA displayed at DEFEXPO 2018 its latest Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) mini-drone, that combines an electrically powered quadrotor for vertical lift, with aerodynamic lift generated by the wings and tail and a large propeller driven by an electrical motor for the forward flight. The drone that weighs 12 kg has a mission endurance of 45-60 minutes, depending on mission profile (number of hovers determine the length). It can climb to a ceiling of 3,000 meters above sea level. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
The Ukraine company UKRSPEC Systems displayed at DEFEXPO 2018 the VTOL module developed for its PD-1AF fixed-wing drone. The VTOL module can be installed on the standard PD-1 drone in the field, to enhance its operability at locations that cannot support operations from runways. Added with the VTOL kit the PD-1 has a wing-span of five meters, (compared with four meters for the PD-1). Mission endurance remain the same 10 hours while payload weight is slightly reduced (7 kg vs 8kg). Take-off and landing processes are controlled by autopilot and done in fully automatic mode. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
Mahindra Defence displayed at DEFEXPO 2018 two types of remotely operated weapon stations. This overhead RWS mounts a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun, an integral EO system and smoke canisters. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
A smaller remotely controlled weapon station (RWS) from Mahindra mounts a 7.62mm machine gun. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
BlueBird Aero Systems unveiled at DEFEXPO 2018 its latest variant of MicroB, a small, lightweight UAV system deployed by a single operator using a gun-like telescopic rail. The new MicroB is slightly larger than the previous model, its efficient wing design and longer, slender fuselage that provides more space for batteries enable users to more than double the mission endurance. Other systems displayed here were the ThunderB small tactical UAV and SpyLite mini UAS. The company has already conducted field trials in India, that successfully demonstrated the SpuLite’s performance in a tactical surveillance role at high altitude and in extreme weather conditions.The unveiling of the new variant in India comes with the announcement of a Joint Venture between CYIENT and Bluebird, that aims to indigenize, manufacture and assemble BlueBird’s UAVs for the Indian market. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
The Indian civil and military authorities have great interest in drone detection and interception capabilities, which several companies have addressed at DEFEXPO 2018. Among the systems displayed were the Drone Guard System (DGS) developed by Bharat Electronics (BEL), which detects, intercepts, classify and neutralizes radio controlled drones by means of electronic countermeasures. The system detects the radio links associated with the drone’s remote control from a distance of eight km, and uses EO sensors and RF neutralizers to track and defeat the target. The system can operate in fully automatic or manual control mode. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
India was one of the first users of IAI’s loitering munitions, as it became an early adaptor of both the Harpy autonomous radar suppression autonomous loitering system and Harop systems, extending the system’s capability to semi-autonomous weapons with man-in-the-loop control. The Harop is currently offered for integration on surface vessels, operating as a stand-off surface attack providing selective attack capability. Two new designs – Green Dragon and Rotem-L were displayed at DEFEXPO 2018. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update.
The Indian interest in loitering systems brought new players to pursue opportunities for such systems. Among these is Alpha-Elsec, a joint venture between Elbit Systems of Israel and Alpha Design Technologies of India. At DEFEXPO 2018 the JV displayed the Sky-Striker, an electrically powered optionally recoverable loitering weapon that performs autonomous or manually controlled attack missions. As a compact, electrically powered drone, Sky-Striker can operate quietly at a range of 20 km from its launch point, where it loiters on patrol or over a target area for two hours, carrying a day/night electro-optical payload and a single warhead weighing five kg. (a larger 10 kg warhead can be used, with shorter loiter time). Once a target is locked and attack being approved, the drone dives, at a speed up to 300 knots. Its unique capability is operation at an adverse weather, at wind level of up to 40 knots. In case the mission did not develop an attack opportunity the Sky-Striker can be brought to a safe landing and recover for another mission. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update
General Atomics displayed at DEFEXPO a scale model of its Guardian UAS, a variant of the Predator B designed primarily for maritime surveillance missions. It carries multiple sensors and is operated remotely over very long distances via satellite link. India expressed interest in acquiring 22 of these drones, in a deal expected to be worth around US$2 billion but hasn’t placed an order yet. If such deal materializes it will be the first major sale of unmanned systems in India. Until now India relied on Israel and on local production for all its unmanned systems. In parallel to the interest in Delhi’s US drones, India’s DRDO is developing a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone, and the sale of 10 Heron TP drones to India is held in a similar status. Photo: Tamir Eshel, Defense-Update