Why is India investing more than Rs. 60,000 crore in military drone technology?

Warfare is evolving with every passing day. Recently, a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan was decided after the latter successfully executed a drone attack. Azerbaijan had been dominated by Armenia for two decades as they had a superior military force. In 2020 though, Azerbaijan turned the tables and the two countries agreed to stop fighting.

What’s dangerous about this obscure war is that Turkey had supplied the drones to Azerbaijan. As a nation, Turkey is extremely friendly with Pakistan and they may supply their weapons to them.


In order to be prepared, India has invested Rs. 40,000 crore ($5.43 billion) in S-400 Anti-Aircraft Surface-To-Air missile technology by cracking a deal with Russia. They’ve also invested Rs. 22,000 crore ($3 billion) in 30 American predator drones. These predator drones can fly at an extremely high altitude for 40 hours at a stretch which enables them to attack targets deep into the enemy territory. Out of the 30 drones, 10 would be given to the army, 10 would be given to the navy and 10 would be given to the air force.


Today, the countries with superior drone technology are China, USA, Israel and Turkey. India have also ordered 100 SkyStriker suicide drones from Israel and have a homegrown Anti Drone System (developed by DRDO) that can detect and jam enemy drones from a 3 km distance. It can then use a laser weapon when the drone is 1 km away.


In an interview with Hindustan Times, Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane said, “We are developing the capability to deal with this threat in both kinetic and non-kinetic realms. We are focusing on offensive use of drones as well as using counter-drone technology to tackle the threat.”


For sure, as this technology evolves, the number of men required to be on the battlefield will reduce. That said, these drones can even carry nuclear weapons leading to widespread (and irreversible) destruction. They can spray dangerous chemicals in the air and be used in several other cunning ways if it reaches the wrong hands (read: terrorists).


“People think it’s a video game. But in a video game, you have check points, you have restart points. In a drone, when you fire that missile, there is no restart,” Stephen Lewis, a former drone pilot told NBC News. “The use of them with the specific purpose of eliminating people is morally outrageous,” he added.


On one hand, drones have caused some civilian deaths. On the other hand, they have eliminated key terrorists who could have killed thousands of civilians if left unchecked.


India’s relationship with its neighbours – Pakistan and China – are not friendly. China is trying its best to cover India from all sides by setting up their presence in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Even India is pulling out all stops by signing key defence agreements with USA.

Drones, also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are now available for civilian use as well. You can buy a drone camera and use it to take photographs from a high altitude. In the future, these vehicles have the potential to deliver food, deliver medicines, assist farmers and do a lot more.


PM Narendra Modi recently relaxed certain rules and regulations which has made it easier for people to operate these vehicles. “The new drone rules usher in a landmark moment for this sector in India. The rules are based on the premise of trust and self-certification. Approvals, compliance requirements and entry barriers have been significantly reduced. The new drone rules will tremendously help start-ups and our youth working in this sector. It will open up new possibilities for innovation and business. It will help leverage India’s strengths in innovation, technology and engineering to make India a drone hub," he wrote on his Twitter profile.


We feel that India woke up a little late when it comes to investing in military drones but it’s good that they are finally realizing the importance of these machines.


References:


1. Landmark moment: PM Modi says new drone rules will open avenues for innovation, business in India (India Today)

2. India is preparing to counter drone threats, says Army chief after Jammu air base blast (Scroll)

3. How military drone technology is changing the face of conventional warfare (Bisbo)

4. Former Drone Pilots Denounce 'Morally Outrageous’ Program (NBC News)