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Developing Air-Launched Drones With Indo-US Technology

  • A Bangalore based start-up is part of the first Indo-US technology collaboration project in the aerospace sector and will work with the US Air Force Research Labs to develop future air-launched drones for the armed forces.
  • NewSpace Research and Technologies Pvt Ltd, a start-up that lists itself as a 46 member team, is part of a project selected under the Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) to do-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles, ET has learned.
  • While the company did not offer comments when contacted by ET, it is learned that it has been selected for a futuristic program that involves collaboration with the US Air Force Research Labs, the Indian Air Force, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
  • Details of the project have not been shared yet but are likely to involve drones that act as force multipliers for combat aircraft on mission. The project would be one of the first success stories for the intergovernmental DTTI that has yet to show significant results, despite intense efforts by both India and the US.
  • At a seminar last month, top Pentagon official Ellen M Lord, Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment had referred to the air-launched drones program but had not mentioned the name of the Indian start-up being involved.
  • Experts have welcomed the move to involve the private sector in the Indo-US technology sharing initiative. “A lot of the work under DTTI isn’t terribly advanced, certainly not the kind that requires high-level enabling S&T research from organizations like DRDO and DARPA. Given that, it makes sense to involve private businesses, particularly the more agile and specialized outfits, to collaborate on meeting high-level requirements set out by the militaries of both sides,” aviation expert Angad Singh with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) says.
  • He adds that projects like these need to focus on the development of technology and not be treated as an arms sale. “The key thing is to frame DTTI as cooperative tech development — where both sides contribute and both benefit from the outcomes — rather than one-sided arms sales or technology transfer from the USA to India,” Singh said.
  • While the US side seems to be keen to work with Indian companies and startups, as is clear from the selection for the first aviation project, it remains to be seen how things go ahead, given that traditionally such initiatives have been driven by the DRDO that is bound to a set governmental procedure and pace.

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Girish Chandra

Army Brat, Spiritual, Defence Enthusiast, Passionate teacher, B.Tech in Automobile Engineering, Cleared AFCAT & CDS

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