New Delhi: India‘s air force has placed a $21.2-million order on a domestic Small and Medium Enterprise for a counter-drone system that uses means other than a ‘hard kill’ to destroy hostile unmanned objects.
The contract, worth Rs 155 crore, was signed earlier this week between Indian Air Force and Hyderabad-based Zen Technologies Limited, which in an exchange filing informed that its order book, as on Sep. 01, stood at Rs 402.6 crore ($55 million) against an order book of Rs 191.6 crore ($22.2 million) on Jun. 30 last year.
“Zen Technologies got an order for Rs 155 crore from the Indian armed forces for counter-Unmanned Aircraft Systems (CUAS). The offer from Zen Technologies is a completely India designed, developed and manufactured CUAS, with a very high percentage of indigenous content, against stiff competition from many foreign players,” an industry source said.
“This is the right step in the direction of making India an export hub for drone and counter-drone technologies. This is a very brave and bold move by the Government of India to fully trust many Indian companies and place orders on them. The ball, now, is in the industry’s court,” the source said.
With the Government of India announcing on Aug. 26 the new Drone Rules 2021 that enables ease of doing business for the nascent domestic drone companies, Zen Technologies shares have continued to surge in the last five days, rallying 32 per cent during these trading sessions.
Earlier this week, the Indian Navy had announced the purchase of Naval Anti-Drone System (NADS), developed by the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation and manufactured by Bharat Electronics Limited.
In January this year, the Indian Army signed a $20-million (nearly Rs 140 crore) contract with ideaForge Technology Private Limited, another local drone maker, for the supply of a tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for high altitude deployment.
The uptick in drone and counter-drone procurement by the Indian armed forces is a result of the continuing military conflict between India and China in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control since May 2020 and the terror attack on the Jammu air base in June this year.
The drone and counter-drone sectors are expected to grow exponentially in the next few years, both for civilian and defence use, and there are already signs of a boost in the market.