Private defence manufacturer Economic Explosives Limited (EEL) has developed the first indigenous drones and loitering munition systems. These were showcased before the chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat, who visited the company’s facility here on Monday. EEL has expressed readiness to go ahead with the project and offer it to the armed forces in the coming months.
The systems are billed to be better suited to the terrain along all Indian frontiers. EEL has said its product costs would also be substantially lesser than what is being imported by the armed forces at present. The Army at present has similar systems from Israel and Polish sources, independent sources told TOI.
Apart from the drones, the company has also developed anti-drone missiles, which can fire a salvo and take on a swarm of drones well before it can strike. User trials are planned in the coming months for different versions of the drone as well as the anti-drone systems, said sources.
EEL is a fully owned subsidiary of Solar Industries Limited (SIL) — headed by businessman Satyanarayan Nuwal.
A press release by the company said loitering ammunition is also known as a suicide drone. The munition loiters over a given area and swoops down to strike when the target is located.
India has so far been dependent on importing these systems. Solar Group will be the first indigenous company to develop it in-house. The company has developed three versions weighing 1.5kg, 4kg, and 10kg, with ranges of 15, 25 and 100km respectively.
During the demonstration, a source explained the drones have a fully indigenous computer system, which can spot a target and capture images. Based on it, the control crew can launch an attack. Two fixed-winged planes and a hexacopter have been developed.
The first round of user trials is expected to be held in January this year for one of the drones. After that, the drones with the capacity of carrying a relatively higher payload would be tested. The systems can be used against enemy personnel as well as assets like bunkers or ammunition dumps.
The EEL release said it has developed the anti-drone system, which is capable of soft kill, which means impairment of its system, and also striking it down using micro missiles. This is also the first of its kind in India, said sources.
EEL had recently bagged an order to make multimodal hand grenades for the Army.
CDS General Rawat had come to Nagpur for a visit to the Headquarters Maintenance Command of the Indian Air Force (IAF).