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The Ukraine-Russia conflict, marked by its recent drone warfare, has showcased the importance of adapting and evolving unmanned aerial systems in modern warfare. At the beginning of the conflict, the Turkish Bayraktar TB2, a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), was touted as a game-changer in Ukraine’s favour. However, as Russia bolstered its air defence systems, the TB2 drones quickly lost their effectiveness and became susceptible to countermeasures, forcing Ukraine to reduce their usage significantly.

In response to these challenges, Indian startups are now at the forefront of developing a Multi-Mission Recoverable Small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). This innovative technology is designed to enhance the reconnaissance capabilities of medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) and high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs before they enter high-risk operational areas.

The Multi-Mission Recoverable Small UAS can be launched from larger UAVs and has the unique ability to be recovered in mid-flight. These small UAS units will be enclosed in specialized pods, which can also serve as recharging stations for the drones after their missions. They will establish direct communication with the drone operators via the parent UAV, providing real-time, accurate information about the operational area.

One of the critical issues faced in the Ukraine-Russia conflict was the threat posed by shoulder-fired MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems) and short-range air defence systems to non-stealthy, slow-moving MALE and HALE UAVs. The Multi-Mission Recoverable Small UAS addresses this challenge by offering capabilities beyond traditional reconnaissance, such as intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), signal intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT), as well as jamming capabilities. This multi-functional approach adds a layer of protection to the parent UAV in high-risk operations.

The need to adapt and innovate in the realm of unmanned aerial systems is evident, as the Ukraine-Russia war highlights both the potential and limitations of such technology in modern conflict. Indian startups are at the forefront of these efforts, working to create cutting-edge solutions that can shape the future of drone warfare.

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