Scientists Developing Futuristic Tech for Swarm UAV Missions


By Anantha Krishnan M | ENS

BANGALOREThe next generation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems will be equipped with high performance, specialised payloads to carry out ‘dull, dirty and dangerous’ missions. In addition to gathering intelligence over sustained periods of time (days to months), these UAVs will be providing situational awareness, acquisition and identification of targets, Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD), Destruction of Enemy Air Defence (DEAD) and will be operating in a network-centric environment.

In an interview to Express, Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) Director P Srikumar said issues relating to sharing of civilian air space will have to be addressed while developing new UAV systems. “The technical challenge will be to develop technologies required for co-operative flying among UAVs and design of swarm missions. (During swarm missions, a group of UAVs communicate to each other and undertake varied tasks). Many of the technologies required and missions like SEAD and DEAD are niche in nature. Some of the futuristic technologies are denied to India and we have to develop them from scratch. This is a challenge and scientists working on UAV systems are working on areas to bridge the gap,” Srikumar said.

He said in the present global scenario where proxy wars and asymmetric warfare take precedence over conventional full-fledged battles, it is only apt for nations to be fully prepared in handling these dangerous encounters. “Missions related to handling ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) are key factors and unmanned platforms play a major role in countering these skirmishes. ADE has drawn a road map addressing the requirements of various classes of UAVs and is now working towards meeting the developmental challenges keeping the user requirements in mind,” Srikumar said.

The tactical UAV Nishant, developed by ADE, is already being used by Indian armed forces, while other unmanned platforms like Rustom-1 and Rustom-2 are undergoing various developmental trials.

ADE also supports educational institutions to undertake cutting edge research in UAVs and micro air vehicles (MAVs). “At present there are around 300 engineering students doing their project work in the related areas at ADE. Under the National Programme on Micro Air Vehicle mission, several projects in the field of MAVs have been given to academic institutions. “We also give research projects directly to professors in leading academic institutes to develop core technologies required for our current and future applications,” Srikumar said.