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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unveiled a new challenge through iDEX ADITI Edition 1.0, specifically targeting Indian startups. This initiative focuses on the development of a next-generation defensive technology for the Indian Air Force (IAF) – an Expendable Active Decoy (EAD) swarm with electronic warfare (EW) capabilities.

The primary objective of this challenge is to develop a swarm of high-speed drones equipped with chaff dispensers and electronic warfare payloads. These drones would be deployed to overwhelm and confuse enemy air defence systems.

The iDEX ADITI challenge outlines several crucial specifications for the EAD swarm system:

  • High-Speed, Long-Range Performance: The drones must achieve speeds of at least Mach 0.9 (approximately 1,116 km/h) and have a minimum operational range of 500 kilometres. This extended range and high speed will enable them to effectively penetrate enemy airspace and disrupt air defence radars.
  • Advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite: The drones should be integrated with EW payloads that can autonomously detect and emit electronic signals to deceive enemy radars. Additionally, the system should allow for pre-programmed or real-time mission planning to optimize EW effectiveness.
  • Chaff Dispensing Capability: The drones must be equipped with chaff dispensers to create corridors that mask the signature of friendly aircraft from enemy radar detection.
  • Simple Launch System and Minimal Infrastructure: The challenge emphasizes the need for a user-friendly launch system that does not require complex runways or extensive infrastructure. This ensures the system’s operational flexibility and rapid deployment capabilities.
  • GPS-Independent Navigation: The drones’ navigation system should function effectively even in environments where GPS signals are unavailable or jammed. This ensures the system’s reliability and effectiveness in contested environments.
  • Modular Payload Design for Future Applications: The system should be designed with a modular payload bay, allowing for future upgrades or swaps to accommodate evolving battlefield requirements.
  • Swarm Coordination and Launch: The system should enable the launch and operation of multiple drones in a coordinated swarm, maximizing their collective impact on enemy air defences.

The iDEX ADITI Edition 1.0 challenge presents a tremendous opportunity for Indian startups in the aerospace and defence sector. By developing this innovative EAD swarm system, startups can play a pivotal role in bolstering the IAF’s survivability and strategic edge in modern aerial warfare. This initiative has the potential to revolutionize air combat tactics and counter-air defence strategies.

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