SOURCE: THOMAS D’SOUZA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
As Indian Air Force makes a transition from 4.5 generation to 5th Generation platforms like FGFA and AMCA in near future I cannot help but think what the next generation of a platform is going to look like after 5th Generation platforms are inducted into Indian Air Force.
Increasingly of late, the number of missions which have been now been carried out by unmanned combat aircraft in last decade or so has increased tremendously even though major rumored are still carried out by Manned aircraft or while humans are in the loop but still many Militarizes around the World are also moving to develop unmanned aerial platforms which can work Independently and can perform way many missions then they are permitted today with today’s technology .
Use of Unmanned Vehicles can be traced back to its origins way back to as far as 1918. But it is recent technological advancements that have truly showcased its true abilities in adding armed forces in their operations. high-flying remotely controlled Unmanned Aerial vehicles have demonstrated their abilities to carry out jobs of manned aircraft at the same level of precision at much lower level of risks.
Right now Unmanned Aerial vehicles are mostly used for carrying out counter insurgency and domestic surveillance roles but in future drones might play fundamentally different role and might fight a war on behalf of one nation against another nation. Platforms like Predator MQ-1 and Reaper MQ-9 are already carrying out the bulk of unmanned combat patrols and the new generation X-47B UCAVs can now also be operated from an aircraft carrier further increasing it range and area of operations .
India also has plans for unmanned aerial vehicles which can be an armed and weaponized but the lack of development of the current generation of unarmed platforms will mean that India will require much longer time to master all the technology required for the development of next generation UAVs, the current generation of drones developed by India are of little utility for the Government and armed forces and are yet to enter production due to lack of key development in its Sensor payload capability and lack of the technology developed locally in India.
India will need to invest far more than what it is currently doing with his unmanned aerial vehicle developmental programs.Unmanned aerial vehicles will come as a force multiplier for the Indian armed forces if they really want to prepare themselves to fight 2 and a half front war.
UAVs are excellent for dull dirty and dangerous Roles so often seen in Military and they can be used for uncertain roles in uncertain future and India will require combat unmanned aerial vehicles in good numbers to fight two and a half front or conventional superiority will not hold any advantage.
Indian Public and Private sector both are fully capable of developing next generation Unmanned Aerial vehicles for Indian armed forces but it will require great government participation along with Armed forces to kick start this Industry which requires Investment in an Ecosystem which needs to be invested heavily at its initial stage.