March, 25

    Indian Army issues RFI for Aerial Targeting system and Loitering munitions

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    The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to procure Quantity 10 (Ten) sets of Aerial Targeting Systems (Extended Range) along with 120 (One Hundred Twenty) Loiter Munitions under Buy (Indian) Category through Fast Track Procedure under Emergency Procurement process from prospective Bidders subject to meeting its requirements.

    What is Aerial Targeting System?

    An aerial Targeting System (Extended Range) is a vehicle-mounted canister/ pneumatically/ VTOL launched system with range and endurance to carry out intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, and accurate engagement of High-Value Targets in all spectrums of warfare.

    Aerial Targeting System (Extended Range) should have a minimum range of 100km with 2 meters CEP and can launch from Vehicle based canister /Pneumatic/VTOL method and can carry 8kg or more warhead with an endurance of 2hrs.

    Read more: HAL working on two bigger sub-scale prototypes of HAPS

    What are loitering munitions?

    Loitering munitions are a mix of a surface-to-surface missile and a drone. They can destroy radar installations, air defence systems, communication centres as well as dynamic targets such as enemy vehicles and troops

    India successfully tested three ‘Made in India’ loitering munitions in Ladakh, giving a boost to ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in the realm of defence.

    During March 21-23, the newly-developed loitering munitions (LM0, LM1, and Hexacopter) were tested in the Nubra Valley region of Ladakh.

    In addition, the Indian Army has requested additional smart loiter munitions, also known as Canister Launched Anti-Armour Loiter Munitions (CALM) Systems, for deployment in the plains and deserts along the western borders, as well as in high altitude areas up to 5,100 metres along the northern border.

    This article clarifies what loitering munitions are and how they will benefit the Armed Forces.

    Read more: TEDBF: No Plans to develop an Air force version

    What exactly are loitering munitions?

    A loitering munition is a type of weapon system consisting mostly of an unmanned platform with a warhead. They are a combination of surface-to-surface missiles and drones.

    While a missile, once launched, travels directly to its target after a few minutes, loiter munitions are released in a manner similar to that of a drone and remain in the air for a prolonged period of time, surveying a designated region and searching for targets. Once a target has been determined and locked on, they function as a missile to destroy it.

    Loiter munitions can be recovered if a mission is aborted or there are no eligible targets. However, loiter munitions are smaller, less expensive, and less sophisticated than combat or armed drones.

    The artillery branch of the Army benefits from loitering munitions because they can detect and eliminate static and moving targets across all types of terrain, from mountains to deserts.

    The weapon systems are capable of destroying radar stations, air defence systems, communication centres, and dynamic targets such as enemy vehicles and personnel.

    Which loitering weapons were evaluated in Ladakh?

    Now that we have a better grasp of loitering munitions, we will examine the ‘Made in India’ weapon system that was tested in March in Ladakh.

    Economic Explosives Limited, a subsidiary of Solar Industries India Ltd, and Zmotion Autonomous Systems co-developed the three loitering munitions.

    According to a report in the Economic Times, the man portable munitions can take off with a 4 kg warhead, flying for an hour and homing at ground-based targets with precision.

    Moreover, the ‘Made in India’ weaponry is expected to be at least 40 per cent cheaper than imports from Israel and Poland.

    According to reported information, while the LM0 and LM1 achieved full endurance of 60 minutes, the hexacopter did 30 minutes flight with 4 Kg warhead.

    The testing of the weapons system becomes more significant as loitering munitions was recently placed on the import ban list by the Ministry of Defence.

    India’s request for more

    The Indian Army has placed a request for 150 Canister Launched Anti-Armour Loiter Munitions (CALM) Systems.

    According to an Indian Express report, the CALM System is a pre-loaded canister with loiter ammunition or a drone which once fired can remain aloft for a period of time over the area of operation, and when a target is sighted it can be guided down to destroy the target with the explosive payload that it carries.

    The CALM system was used in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in 2021. Azerbaijan used this weaponry to take out the Armenian tanks and other military targets.

    There are also reports that the Russians are using loiter ammunition in Ukraine.

    India already uses the Israeli Harop loitering munition and in September 2021, placed an order for 100 explosive-laden ‘SkyStrikers’, capable of long-range tactical strikes from Bengaluru-headquartered firm Alpha Design, in a joint venture (JV) with Israeli firm Elbit Security Systems.

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