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Indian army gets first indigenous kamikaze drones – media

The man-portable UAVs, designed and produced in the country, could be used in cross-border strikes

The Indian army has received its first batch of domestically manufactured man-portable suicide drones, the Economic Times reported on Friday, citing sources.

Acquiring such systems will enhance the army’s precision strike capabilities against enemy training camps and infiltrators, while reducing dependence on imports, the newspaper noted. 

Supplied by Economic Explosives Limited, a part of Solar Group, which manufactures industrial explosives, the Nagastra 1 loitering munitions – also known as suicide drones – can operate from high-altitude areas at extreme temperatures and can carry out GPS-enabled precision strikes with an accuracy of 2 meters and a range of almost 30 km.

The drones are designed to be carried by infantry, and have a low acoustic signature and electric propulsion, making them effective against a variety of targets, such groups of terrorists breaching the border, the report noted. 

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The Nagastra 1 has indigenous content of over 75%, cutting down dependence on foreign sources. The Indian armed forces have been ramping up efforts to upgrade their defence capabilities, following security incidents along the borders with Pakistan and China. Lately, the focus has been on procuring all such systems from domestic industries and avoiding imports.

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who began his second term earlier this week, pledged to bolster security through self-reliance in defence manufacturing, while also boosting arms exports. The minister also announced regular reviews to track progress in achieving those goals.

The Economic Times noted that given the scale of domestic production, and resulting cost reduction, there is now a strong case for exporting military drones to countries that have been looking for similar solutions.

Previously, India has relied on imports of military UAVs. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Arms Transfers database, New Delhi was the third largest importer of such devices after the UK and France. US and Israel, as well as China, are world’s largest suppliers of military drones.

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Earlier this month, another Indian company, Kadet Defence Systems, reached a milestone with the successful development of suicide drones under a program with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – the state agency for designing and manufacturing weaponry. Over 50 of these systems have been ordered by India, and are to be delivered by the end of 2024, the company said. 

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