India, China and Russia test their versions of Switchblade drones as war in Ukraine makes vagrant ammo popular

The Indian Army has tested a locally developed stray munition capable of operating from rough terrain and high altitude areas, successfully demonstrating its strike capability, according to a recent report by the Economic Times (ET).

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The new drone, known as the ALS 50, was developed by a team of young engineers from Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) and is designed to be a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platform.

The ALS 50 has already proven its ability to operate from high altitude areas during trials earlier this year in Ladakh.

The recent test took place at the Indian Army’s Pokhran Firing Range in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. The drone accurately hit the ground target with an explosive warhead during testing, ET reported citing sources.

The drone can take off as a quadcopter and then switch to fixed-wing mode when flying for long distance trips.

With its VTOL capability, the ALS 50 can navigate in confined spaces such as ship decks, fortified mountain positions, small jungle clearings and narrow valleys. It has an autonomous targeting system that can accurately identify and target a predetermined target.

ALS-50 roving ammunition

Besides, its range and payload capacity can be increased according to customer requirements. Future drone development may include the integration of artificial intelligence and swarming capabilities.

According to the ET report, the ALS-50 will soon be inducted into the Indian Armed Forces.

War in Ukraine makes vagrant ammunition popular

The Indian Army is looking for a range of roving munitions or “kamikaze drones” that can be used for precise strikes against high value targets such as command posts, missile launchers, enemy armour, etc

This is a common theme among the drone capabilities sought by the armed forces of several countries, especially after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, where kamikaze drones, especially American-made Switchblade roam munitions , are very popular.

Switchblade 300 roving ammo. (via Twitter)

This has led countries like Russia and China to develop their versions of Switchblade drones, and it looks like India, with its ALS-50 drone, could be considered the latest addition to this list.

China unveiled its FH-901 suicide drone two weeks ago by releasing a video showing a tank target being attacked and destroyed in a high attack profile by what appears to be an FH-901 drone.

Chinese state-run media touted the drone as the Chinese counterpart to the US Switchblade.

Before that, in late August, Russia also developed a drone similar to the US-made Switchblade but “twice as powerful”.

According to the data sheet of the drone, called LAOP-500, which circulates on social networks, it can hit targets at a distance of up to five kilometers and has a range of up to 20 minutes.

Milestone for India’s Indian Drone Industry

The latest successful test of the ALS-50 drone marks a new milestone for India’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) industry which continues to grow its base of drone manufacturers and exporters due to policy initiatives created by the Indian government .

While India started exploring military drones as early as the 1990s, the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) developed the Nishant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for reconnaissance and surveillance.

However, three of the four systems built by DRDO crashed and India decided to import a wide range of Israeli-made drones, such as the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Heron I, Searcher MK II and the Harop. ammunition.

India has continued to depend on foreign countries, mainly Israel, for military drones, but this has started to slowly change over the past few years.

In 2018, Adani Defense & Aerospace and the Israeli company Elbit Systems, in a joint venture (JV), launched an advanced drone manufacturing unit in Hyderabad which produces carbon composite structures for Hermes drones 900 and Hermes 450.

Hermes 900 (Twitter)

This is the only production facility for the Hermes MALE drone outside of Israel. It began by serving international markets and supplying the Indian Armed Forces.

Apart from this, there is a joint venture between Adani Group subsidiary Alpha Design and Elbit Systems which has a manufacturing unit in Bengaluru which produces low-altitude multi-rotor VTOL drones called Thor mini tactical drones also known as as Skylark. , and a tactical roam round known as the Sky Striker.

Azerbaijan used the Sky Striker drone in its 2020 conflict with Armenia to strike moving targets such as armored personnel carriers (APCs).

In September 2021, the Indian army, navy and air force signed several contracts worth more than 500 crore rupees (over $61.5 million) related to drone technology , focusing on Indian companies.

The Indian Army has secured the most contracts among the three services, including three separate deals with a combined value of over Rs 300 crore.

Of these, the first contract worth more than Rs 100 crore (over $12.3 million) was awarded to the joint venture between Israel Elbit System and Adani Group’s Alpha Design for a total of 100 drones. SkyStriker suicide bombers.

The two deals worth more than Rs 200 crore (over $24.6 million) have been signed for Swarm drones with Indian startups – Bengaluru-based NewSpace Research and Tech, led by former officer Indian Air Force (IAF) Sameer Joshi, and a Noida-based company, Raphe.

The Indian Army also started using its first locally produced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) drone last year, called the SWITCH drone, manufactured by ideaForge, a private drone manufacturer based in Mumbai.

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