India has finally produced indigenous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), with the Indian Air Force (IAF) getting its first lot recently.
The UAVs, however, have not been developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which the Indian government provides billions of rupees to develop defence equipment. A technology firm in Ludhiana, Bhogal Hobby Tech, a sister concern of Bhogal Cycles Limited, has come up with the design, to be provided at Rs 0.6 million a piece. The firm is in the business of producing aero models and accessories. Experts have tested the UAVs that weigh 28 kilogrammes, have an 80 cc engine and a wingspan of 5.5 metres (18 feet). “We supplied UAVs to forces in March and we have made the defence self-reliant,” says Manjeev Bhogal, managing partner of the firm and the brain behind the project.
The IAF had approached the firm to develop the UAVs, as the Israeli-made ones were too expensive and Israel was not providing spare parts for repairs, Bhogal said. He said the firm developed the vehicles on its own, “as the Indian Air Force made it clear that it will not give any monetary help for the research and development”. The firm already supplies trainer aero models and target aero models to IAF and the Indian Army. It was five years ago that Bhogal was approached by the IAF for aero models and seeing his expertise, was asked to concentrate on producing UAVs.