India pursues indigenous loitering munitions
The Indian Army successfully tested three types of indigenously developed loitering munitions at a 4,500m altitude. These were designed for eventual use against enemy bunkers, ground-based C2 nodes, artillery and armoured formations.
Military sources said two LM-0 and LM-1 fixed-wing loitering munitions, plus a Hexa-copter carrying a 4kg warhead, flew from Ladakh’s Nurba Valley near the Chinese border in late March. Developed jointly by Economic Explosives Limited and Zmotion Autonomous Systems, they engaged ground targets with ‘precision and accuracy’.
The Army Design Bureau assisted in the two-day trial.
India’s MoD has prioritised the domestic development of loitering munitions, banning their import from 2023 onwards, but permitting collaborative agreements between local vendors and overseas OEMs for indigenous development.
The MoD also signed agreements with domestic private and public-sector manufacturers on 7 April to series-produce loitering munitions with technology developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
Companies included Adani Defence, Larsen & Toubro, Astra Microwave, ICOMM Tele and public-sector Electronics Corporation of India.
Meanwhile, the MoD is fast-tracking the December 2021 EoI it had dispatched to indigenous manufacturers for loitering munitions, or Medium-Range Precision Kill System (MRPKS).
These are for employment by Indian Army artillery units against ‘permanent and dynamic targets in the plains, deserts, semi-desert, mountainous terrain and high-altitude areas’.
Potential targets include C4I centres, strategic and long-range weapon platforms, ammunition dumps, ground troops, radar installations and communication networks.
The EoI specified that the MRPKS would need to be launched from an altitude of 4,000m, have a 40km range and 5m circular error of probability. It will carry 8kg high explosive pre-fragmented and anti-armour warheads.
The selected MRPKS must incorporate 50% indigenous content. Each prospective vendor must develop one launcher, two forward observer stations and six loitering munitions.
Following trials, one or more shortlisted companies will then supply ten launchers, 30 forward observation stations and 120 loitering munitions, in addition to a five-year repair and maintenance service contract.
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