The Army, in turn, wants a man-portable drone which can operate at least 1,000-metre above ground level to ensure it cannot be shot down by enemy rifles or light machine guns.
NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has virtually rejected the Raven mini-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) being offered by the US, in a blow to the much-touted bilateral defence trade and technology initiative (DTTI) for joint production of military technologies.

Sources say the Raven RQ-11 does not meet the technical parameters or GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) laid down by the Army for the hand-launched spy drones to equip all its 382 infantry battalions, as also counter-insurgency force Rashtriya Rifles and mechanised units.

"The Army wants futuristic mini-drones, not the current-generation Raven being offered as the `Cheel' drone to the force. It can give good imagery with clarity only from an altitude of 150-metre above ground level," said a source.

The Army, in turn, wants a man-portable drone which can operate at least 1,000-metre above ground level to ensure it cannot be shot down by enemy rifles or light machine guns. "If there is to be joint manufacturing, it makes sense to go in for a futuristic bird rather than an existing one," said a source.

After the rebuff, the US is now trying to push "another upgraded" drone in a joint collaboration between Raven-manufacturer AeroVironment and Bangalore-based Dynamatic Technologies.

Raven was one of the four "pathfinder projects" identified for co-development and co-production under the DTTI during the Obama-Modi summit here in January. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter inked the expansive 10-year bilateral defence framework last month.

But "project agreements" could be finalized for only two of the pathfinders -- mobile electric hybrid power sources or generators, and chemical-biological warfare protection gear for soldiers.

The Raven proposal has run into rough weather, with the Army sticking to its stand despite pressure to "dilute" its existing GSQRs for the mini-drones. Both the defence ministry and Army on Friday declined to comment on the matter.

Interestingly, as many as 35 Indian vendors have already offered to manufacture the mini-drones as per the GSQRs. The 1.13-million strong Army requires at least 598 mini-UAVs to ensure "battlefield transparency" for its foot-soldiers.

These man-portable drones offer an endurance of two-three hours for an operational surveillance radius of around 10-km. Being stealthy because of their small size, these drones will also be used to equip the Para (Special Forces) battalions for covert missions beyond enemy lines, counter-terrorism operations and `beyond-the-hill' surveillance.

The armed forces do have the larger Israeli Searcher-II and Heron drones with much longer endurance for surveillance and precision-targeting missions. But much like the Army, IAF and Navy also want micro-UAVs for surveillance and protection of their airfields and warships.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/i...w/48120366.cms