The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), following the drone terror attack on an Air Force base in Jammu last month, carried out an urgent demonstration of its anti-drone system at Kolar within a week of the attack for all three services to secure their key locations, assets and installations. ET has reliably gathered that the DRDO system with all its accompaniments that would involve detection, jamming and countermeasures to engage, is estimated to cost Rs 22 crore a piece if the purchase order is for 100 systems or more.
To scale up production in the light of the Jammu attack, sources said, the DRDO has decided to rope in the Tatas, L&T and the Adani group as ToT (transfer of technology) partners for making this indigenously developed anti-drone system in the private sector. Until now, the DRDO had only designated the defence public sector entity Bharat Electronics Ltd to manufacture the system
The system has a detection capability of up to 4 km with ‘soft kill’ options by way of radio frequency jamming that targets disabling the communication; and GPS spoofing-cum-jamming system that works on neutralising the remote locating system in a drone. Both these options have a range of 3 km.
The prospective user also has the choice of opting for the system with just the soft kill abilities. However, the system offers a ‘hard kill’ option too, which physically detects, targets and destroys a small size object in the range of 150 m to 1 km and possibly more. This essentially means that it can target a system even if it manages to penetrate deep enough.
The DRDO has conveyed to the government that if orders come in time, the systems can be ready in quick time. The forces are separately assessing the number of sites they want protected against drones.
The anti-drone system is usually best suited for guarding specific installations, said officials, though the services are likely to independently explore options overseas. However, the Defence Ministry may want an available made-in-India system to get the go-ahead for now.
The attack on the Jammu airbase, which is now being probed by the NIA, was a wake-up call on the government. The uniform size of the fragments which were created by the explosion, investigators believe, point to military-grade explosive from across the border. While the damage caused was peripheral to the principal installations and assets in the base, sources said, they fall in a pattern of terror groups target military locations in the Jammu-Pathankot region.
Terror outfits have been using drones for surveillance or to make weapons drops. The Border Security Force even brought down one and while it did not have any markings, the assessment was that the drone was probably of Chinese origin.