The Indian Navy is considering changes to its requirements for Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) in light of evolving modern warfare tactics and the potential for utilizing the platform for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), and uncrewed fighter jets.

In 2021, the Indian Ministry of Defence issued a request for information (RFI) for the procurement of four LPDs. The RFI specified that the ships should have a “through deck” design, capable of accommodating at least two heavy-lift helicopters, 12 Special Operations Helicopters, and two NSUAS (Naval Ship-born Unmanned Aerial System). Additionally, the RFI stated that the platform should be able to simultaneously operate at least four Special Ops helicopters, including one NSUAS.

However, recent demonstrations have shown that Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) and High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) UAVs can be modified to operate from aircraft carriers. As a result, the Indian Navy is considering incorporating similar modifications into its LPD design.
This shift in focus towards UAVs and UCAVs is likely due to the increasing importance of unmanned systems in modern warfare. UAVs and UCAVs offer several advantages over traditional manned aircraft, including increased survivability, reduced operating costs, and the ability to conduct missions in high-risk environments.

The Indian Navy’s plans to incorporate UAV and UCAV capabilities into its LPDs are in line with its broader strategy of adopting cutting-edge technologies. The Navy is also planning to make changes to its Proposed IAC-II design to accommodate UAVs and UCAVs. The Navy’s decision on the procurement of LPDs is likely to be delayed until funds are secured for the proposed IAC-II.

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