The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Wednesday showcased an indigenous capability in Jhansi to carry out offensive missions in enemy territory with scores of drones working in assorted formations to identify, encircle and strike targets, with the loitering munitions being developed to meet a key military requirement and keep soldiers out of harm’s way, officials familiar with the development said.

Surveillance and armed drone swarms figure on a new list of Make in India projects that the army plans to pursue in partnership with the industry. Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane released the list last week while rooting for self-reliance in the defence sector and stressing that indigenous technology was key to victory in wars. The Indian Air Force is also fully backing the indigenous development of swarm drone technologies.

The DRDO’s Young Scientist Laboratory for Asymmetric Technologies is working on epic technologies to strengthen India's military capabilities, the DRDO said in a statement. “DRDO demonstrated a fully operational decentralised swarm of 25 drones flying with minimal human intervention,” it said.

The demonstration started  on the opening day of a three-day defence function in Jhansi linked to the ongoing country-wide celebrations to reflect the 75th year of independence. The event highlights the government’s focus on achieving self-reliance in the defence sector, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to hand over locally produced military hardware, including the light combat helicopter, drones and electronic warfare systems, to the armed forces on November 19.

The drone swarm showcased capabilities related to distributive sensing, decision making, reconfigurable path planning and autonomous attack, DRDO officials said, adding that swarm algorithms have advanced features for niche and distinctive capabilities.

Unmanned systems are best for “dull, dirty and dangerous missions” that a military may be required to carry out, said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (Retd), who heads the Centre for Air Power Studies.“Reconnaissance for long hours can be dull, exposure to nuclear contaminated zones can be dirty and areas with heavy enemy defences are dangerous. Drone swarms allow you to overwhelm the enemy’s sensors and weapons and hit multiple targets,” Chopra added



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