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The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has issued a new challenge through iDEX ADITI Edition 1.0, targeting Indian startups. This initiative seeks the development of a next-generation weapon system for the Indian Air Force (IAF) – a helicopter-launched drone with Man-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) capability.

The primary goal is to equip Mi-17 class helicopters, a mainstay of the IAF, with a launch-and-forget or pilot-in-the-loop controlled drone solution. This armed drone should be capable of carrying a minimum warhead of 50 kilograms and strike targets at a distance exceeding 40 kilometers.

The iDEX ADITI challenge outlines several critical specifications for the drone system:

  • Compatibility with Existing Infrastructure: The drone and its launch mechanism must be compatible with the existing bomb racks of Mi-17 helicopters.
  • Precision Targeting: The system should ensure accurate delivery with a Circular Error Probable (CEP) of less than 5 meters, with a desirable target of less than 3 meters.
  • Advanced Guidance and Navigation: The drone should be equipped with an Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) head for target acquisition and operate effectively even in GNSS-denied environments (where GPS signals are unavailable or jammed).
  • Pilot Control and Video Relay: The system should allow for Pilot-in-the-Loop (PIL) control, enabling pilots to guide the drone during missions and receive real-time video feeds for enhanced situational awareness.
  • Multiple Drone Communication: The challenge calls for a system where a single control station can manage multiple drones launched from a single helicopter.
  • Modular Design for Ease of Use: The drones should be easily maintainable, handleable, and storable on helicopter straps in harsh environments. They should also be environmentally sealed to withstand various weather conditions during transport and operation.

The iDEX ADITI Edition 1.0 challenge presents a significant opportunity for Indian startups in the aerospace and defence sector. By developing this innovative weaponized drone system, startups can contribute to bolstering the IAF’s firepower and capabilities in modern warfare. This initiative has the potential to revolutionize aerial combat strategies and strengthen India’s air defence mechanisms.

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