Indian Army to Procure Loitering Munition

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MOD) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to procure loitering munition for the Indian Army.

According to the RFI, the Indian Army is seeking to procure an all-weather man-portable loitering munition platform with sensors integrated with munition which can perform surveillance tasks by day and night and also execute pinpoint strikes with a lethal munition.

The loitering munition system should be able to operate at a flight endurance of at least 30 minutes and a range of not less than 15 km (LOS). The system should be also able to operate up to an altitude of 4500 meters (AMSL) and not less than 300 meters (AGL).

The system should have the capability to loiter above the target, detect targets, enable real-time decision making and carry out the destruction of the target. It should be equipped with a warhead to destroy personnel and soft-skinned targets. The loitering munition system should also have anti-jamming and anti-spoofing capability.

The system should be lightweight, man-portable and easy for a soldier to carry and operate. The total weight of the loiter munition system (loiter munition and ground control station) should not more than 20 kilograms and should be operable with one/two-person(s).

The tentative date of the issue of Request for Proposal (RFP) is September 2020. The total quantity required is approximately 100 loitering munitions which should be delivered within eighteen months from the date of the signing of the contract.

Loitering munition

A loitering munition (also known as a suicide drone or kamikaze drone) is a weapon system category in which the munition loiters around the target area for some time, searches for targets, and attacks once a target is located.

They enable faster reaction times against concealed or hidden targets that emerge for short periods without placing high-value platforms close to the target area, and also allow more selective targeting as the actual attack mission can be aborted.

The system fits in the category between cruise missiles and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) sharing characteristics with both. They differ from cruise missiles in that they are designed to loiter for a relatively long time around the target area, and from UCAVs in that a loitering munition is intended to be expended in an attack and has a built-in warhead.

Loitering weapons first emerged in the 1980s for use in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) role against surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), and were deployed for the SEAD role in a number of military forces in the 1990s. Starting in the 2000s, loitering weapons have been developed for additional roles ranging from relatively long-range strikes and fire support down to tactical, very short-range battlefield systems that fit in a backpack.

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