Spying enemy's den at close range

Last Updated 09 February 2013, 17:29 IST

The enemy is barely a few kilometres away, armed and dangerous. Lurking behind a hill, the Indian jawan launches a handheld micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and readies for action.

The micro UAV takes off without a buzz, hovers a few metres above the ground and gets behind enemy lines hoodwinking the radars. Moments later, the jawan is watching live detailed, graphic video-feeds transmitted from right above the enemy’s location!

Showing off these ultra-modern gadgets tested and proven in the conflict zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, British, American and Israeli firms were at the Aero-India 2013 wooing the Indian Armed Forces.

They had a rationale: The handheld mini and micro UAVs would be the game changer in situations such as the Kargil conflict, where the jawan faced the enemy in tough, challenging, hilly terrain.

India too had realised the micro UAV’s potential. The National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) had its ongoing projects, the Pushpak 450, Black Kite 300 and Golden Hawk 450 Micro Aerial Vehicles, the models of which were displayed prominently at the airshow.

The devices are still in development, but they are all designed to serve surveillance needs sporting miniature hi-resolution cameras ready to send live video feeds at ranges as close as one kilometre.

The British UTC Aerospace System had the Optio Unmanned Aerial System on display. The 7.3-kg device could fly for 2.5 hours, cover 15 kilometres and stream live videos onto a hand-held ground control system.

“These can be launched from very high altitudes in very rugged environments. The Indian Air Force and the Army have requirements for these,” a top UTC official told Deccan Herald. The IAF had even floated a Request For Proposal for acquisition of mini and micro UAVs.

The Israelis had perfected the art of micro UAVs long before. The Bird-Eye 400 micro UAV displayed at the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) stall had a range of 10 kilometres, an altitude of a whopping 10,000 ft, transmitting feeds to a handheld laptop.

“This two-soldier system could be carried on a backpack. The system could operate on battery for 24 hours and is charged with solar energy,” explained Avi Bleser, a top IAI official.

Another similar gadget on offer was The Ghost, with stealth features as powerful as zero noise, day-and-night camera and pre-planned programming. “This micro UAV can sneak into a house through one window, and get out through another window without a sound,” explained Bleser.

Soldiers struggling to face the infiltrators from across the border are bound to love that!

(Published 09 February 2013, 17:29 IST)

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