March, 26

    Army of future: Tenders floated for jetpacks to make soldiers ‘fly’ & robotic mules

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    NEW DELHI: The Indian Army now wants to go hi-tech with a vengeance. The 12-lakh force has now issued preliminary tenders to acquire 48 jetpack suits for soldiers to ‘fly’ at speeds of over 50 km per hour, 100 robotic mules and 130 new-generation ‘tethered’ drone systems through fast-track procedures for emergency procurements.

    Under the RFP (request for proposal) issued for the jetpacks, the Army said the suits with a modern propulsion system should provide controls for safe ascent and descent, take-off and landing in all directions.

    The four-legged robotic mules are supposed to work at heights up to 10,000 feet. They should be capable of autonomous movement across various terrain, apart from having self-recovery and obstruction avoidance features.


    The tethered systems should consist of drones which are connected to a ground-based station and can provide surveillance of beyond the line of sight targets for prolonged periods.

    Drawing lessons from recent conflicts ranging from Armenia-Azerbaijan to Russia-Ukraine amidst the continuing military confrontation with China in eastern Ladakh, the Army has kicked off several acquisition projects for different kinds of drones over the last few months.

    They include kamikaze drones, armed drone swarms, logistics drones, surveillance quadcopters for infantry battalions and the like. For artillery regiments, for instance, the Army is going in for indigenous procurement of 80 mini remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), 10 runway-independent RPAS, 44 upgraded long-range surveillance systems and 106 inertial navigation systems to better direct long-range and high-volume firepower at enemy targets.


    Then, apart from the ongoing induction of the first batch of ‘loitering munitions’ or kamikaze drones, the Army also wants to buy 12 sets of autonomous surveillance and armed drone swarms (A-SADS), each with 50-75 artificial intelligence-enabled aerial vehicles capable of communicating with control stations as well as among themselves.

    While seven of these sets are meant for high-altitude areas with China, the other five drone swarms are for operations in desert areas and plains along the borders with Pakistan, as reported by

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