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The Directorate General of Artillery is currently in the process of procuring Runway Independent Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) for its Surveillance and Target Acquisition (SATA) units. To fulfil this requirement, tenders were issued under the Make-II category (no government funding is provided.). The objective is to obtain a system that can provide data on static and dynamic targets to enhance the effectiveness of firepower resources such as Guns and Rockets.

The need for this aerial surveillance platform arises from the limitations of ground-based sensors, which have restricted surveillance depth. Therefore, there is an urgent requirement for an RWI RPAS with a range of 80-100 km, capable of tactical surveillance, target acquisition, Direction of Own Artillery Fire (DOOAF), and Post Strike Damage Assessment (PSDA).

Several Indian private sector companies have responded to the tender, offering RPAS equipped with a range of capabilities. These RPAS can be integrated with EO/IR (Electro-Optical/Infrared) systems, Laser Target Designators (LTDs), wide-area motion imagery (WAMI), communications intelligence (COMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), electronic warfare (EW) systems, maritime patrol radar (MPR), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), automatic identification system (AIS), and other integrated sensors. Additionally, they can be used for communications relay and SATCOM (Satellite Communications).

The RPAS offered by the private sector companies is designed to be highly transportable, allowing for easy deployment on vehicle-mounted systems. They feature advanced navigation systems that remain operational even in GPS-denied areas and can operate under harsh weather conditions, including below cloud bases. The RPAS are specifically designed for covert operations, with low silhouettes and silent flight capabilities.

Operational versatility and flexibility are key features of these RPAS, along with a small logistic footprint, rapid assembly, and quick turnaround time. They offer autonomous flight modes, and full redundancy, and can be launched and recovered using launchers, parachutes, or vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) techniques.

The introduction of these RPAS will significantly enhance the surveillance and target acquisition capabilities of the SATA units, allowing for more effective and timely engagement of time-critical targets.

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