New Delhi: The Indian Army has earlier this week ordered over 100 tactical Kamikaze Israeli drones, reportedly used in the Azerbaijan–Armenia conflict in 2020, to beef up its operational capability along the borders with Pakistan and China.
Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies Private Limited, in a joint venture along with Israeli defence firm Elbit Systems Limited, will be manufacturing the ‘SkyStriker‘ loitering munition for the army, under this contract. Alpha Design Technologies in now part of the Adani Group, which entered the aerospace and defence space a few years ago.
SkyStriker is already under production at the Alpha Design Technologies facility in India to meet export orders bagged by Elbit Systems. The current contract for the Indian Army was signed on Aug. 31, The Print reported. The loitering munitions will be delivered within a year.
While the Indian Air Force has been operating the much larger Harop loitering munition for over a decade, this is the first time that the army has sought a Kamikaze drone, which can carry a warhead of 5 kg to 10 kg, it said. Kamikaze drones are those that can loiter for hours before hitting the intended target to destroy it completely.
The SkyStriker, which is launched through an automatic pneumatic launch platform, can reach a distance of 20 km in less than 10 minutes. The total range for the system is around 100 km, the report said.
According to Elbit Systems, SkyStriker is capable of long-range precise tactical strikes, loitering and pursue a target for up to two hours with a 5-kg warhead or up to one hour with a 10-kg warhead. At maximum speed of 100 knots, SkyStriker can reach a distance of 20 km within 6.5 minutes, reducing the loitering time by 15 minutes.
SkyStriker deal is among the fast-track emergency procurement of drones and counter-drones that the Indian armed forces have pursued in the recent weeks and months since the military conflict along the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh has raged since May last year.