Our soldiers having been dawning the role of our protectors for a long time now. It is because of them that we're able to breathe freely, walk freely and live freely in our country. They're the backbones making sure that we stand with dignity and walk without fear every time we step out of our houses. Providing them a helping hand in this uphill task are the manmade Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

In the past, these Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) also called as drones or robotic flying machines were only being employed by developed and rich nations because of the big MRP tag that they came with but now, all thanks to the technology advancement and competitive market, many countries are making these drones an internal part of their defence infrastructure.

Number of domestic drone startups are producing and using drones for both security and commercial purposes. Drones have been used to provide services ranging from disaster relief, security and surveillance, and aerial photography.

[caption id="attachment_104989" align="aligncenter" width="700"]The Netra quadcopter, developed by Ideaforge, a Mumbai-based drone startup The Netra quadcopter, developed by Ideaforge, a Mumbai-based drone startup[/caption]

One of the most common use of these drones in the defence arena is for maritime, land, and border control. Every country whether big or small, rich or poor, developed or underdeveloped, must protect their critical sea lanes and borders, and the Indian country is no exception to this. In fact, it becomes all the more important for it as its borders with its neighbouring countries Pakistan and China can be classified as not the most peaceful of borders in the world.

Taking the first step in this direction, India’s Directorate General of Infantry has already issued a request for information (RFI) for 600 mini-UAVs.

Keeping in tandem with the government's pet project Make in India, the initial RFI requires that the manufacturers placing their bids for the Indian UAV contract must co-develop their offerings by partnering with an Indian based company. The government of India has for long been pushing for developing India as a domestic manufacturing base in defense and other sectors through its Make in India initiative.

The Indian military is currently making use of Israeli Searcher and Heron drones, but unfortunately they aren't the best on the block and are facing stiff competition.

As of now, two U.S. based firms, AeroVironmen and Boeing and two Israeli based firms, Elbit Systems and Aeronautics, will be responding to the RFI issued.

Boeing, which is most expectedly going to offer the Scan Eagle, had found a partner in Tata Advanced Systems. Elbit Systems might decided to go with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in the partnership deal. While, AeroVironment, has announced a UAV partnership with Dynamatic Technologies. Both the companies are currently working towards co-developing the Cheel UAV, a “pathfinder project” under the aegis of the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative. On the other hand, Aeronautics is still to zero on its Indian partner.

According to the RFI, the requirements for the mini-UAVs must include launch and recovery systems wherever required; a man-portable ground control station; two-way data relay; spare batteries for the UAVs; battery chargers and three sets of sensor packages with an all-weather day and night capability.

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