Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Acquire Drones & Develop Drone Bases


"The military role of unmanned aircraft systems is growing at unprecedented rates. In 2005, tactical- and theater-level unmanned aircraft alone had flown over 100,000 flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which they were organized under Task Force Liberty in Afghanistan and Task Force ODIN in Iraq." In addition to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions, drones are used in "electronic attack, strike missions, suppression and/or destruction of enemy air defense." MQ-1 Predator UAVs armed with Hellfire missiles are increasingly used by the U.S. as platforms for hitting ground targets. Smaller weapons such as the Raytheon Griffin and Small Tactical Munition are being developed as a less indiscriminate alternative and development is underway on the still smaller, US Navy-developed Spike missile." (Wikipedia)

Drone Bases

   India has taken note of these developments in drone technology and warfare, purchased surveillance drones from various countries and started a drone research and development program. It however needs a bolder operational program for development of drone airfields and deployment of armed drones. Firstly, India should develop an airfield and supporting facilities in the Lakshadweep Islands, that can be used as a staging area for long endurance drones to cover the entire Arabian Sea.  We must have the capability to send advanced armed drones to take out identified and known Indian criminals and anti-India Jehadist based in the Arabian Sea littoral up to and beyond the north-west edge of the Persian Gulf. These drones should also have the endurance to reach Central Asia, so that we have the capability assist Governments of this region who may need or request our help in anti-terrorist operations.

Second, the existing airfield in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands should be augmented as necessary to develop a full fledged drone base.  This drone base would cover the entire Bay of Bengal, the Mallacca Straights and the N.E Indian Ocean.  It should also have drones of a range that can, in an emergency and at their request, provide support to friendly countries in S E Asia, such as Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia. If necessary, either drone base(s) can be used jointly with any country that is willing to give India 1st generation drones for the purpose for which each drone airfield/base is developed.

India-US Co-operation

 We should explore opportunities of co-operation with the USA, which has the most sophisticated and advanced program for use of drones for targeting terrorists. The Government of India should be willing to join USA in hunting down terrorists in return for helping us acquire the advanced equipment and skills necessary for track and hunting terrorists.

Post-Script (22/11/2015)

 News paper reports say that India has asked the US for 100 armed drones such as the Predator, to be followed by the latest Avenger drones. The paper speculates that this is necessary for meeting the threat from China. A week earlier, a news report had indicated that the Indian Govt had cancelled its Nishant drone program because of repeated delays in meeting deadlines. This suggests that the new Raksha Mantri has carried out a serious review of the drone R&D program and the defence forces requirements for armed drones and decided that these drones are urgently needed and thus need to be purchased from the US.

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