Boeing is pitching its ScanEagle UAV for an Indian Army, Navy and Air Force requirement of over 1000 mini Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV).
The latest version of the ScanEagle mini-UAV has an in-flight launch and retrieval system where the UAV is mounted on another vertical take-off UAV and ejected when it reaches a certain height. When the Scan Eagle returns from its mission, the vertical take-off UAV hooks onto it and lands vertically.
Brad Jeisman, Senior Business Development Manager of Insitu Pacific, a Boeing company told journalists at Defexpo that the UAV could be built in India subject to the U.S government approval. The versatile UAV can be equipped with payloads for various applications including surveillance, reconnaissance and civilian applications such as forest fire monitoring and pipeline monitoring.
“As technology changes, so does payload requirements. We are constantly developing new payloads and there is a possibility that Indian companies could be involved in developing these payloads.”
The ScanEagle can land on various types of surfaces including ships with no helo decks, making it suitable for both land and naval use.
The Indian armed forces have a requirement for over 1500 sets of mini-UAVs of which the Indian Army has issued a request for information for some 600 mini-UVs last year which is expected to be followed up with request for proposals (RFI) by late 2016.
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard have issued an RFI through the Directorate of Naval Air Staff for 50 ship-borne UAVs for ISR, monitoring sea lines of communications, search and rescue and anti-piracy roles.
The potential competitors of Boeing Insitu include two Israeli companies: Aeronautics, maker of the Orbiter mini-UAV, and Elbit Systems, maker of the Skylark.
Of these, Elbit is reported to have opened talks with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). AeroVironment, a U.S company is reported to have offered to co-develop a version of its Puma UAV with Dynamatic Technologies, a Bangalore-based firm.
Other competitors include WB Electronics of Poland which is likely to offer its FlyEye system that is in service with the Polish Army.
Among the features for the UAV as per the RFI are a man-portable ground control station, launch and recovery system, sensor packages with an all-weather day and night capabilityand two-way data relay.
A source connected with a mini-UAV manufacturer told defenseworld.net, “there will be scramble of proposals once the RFP comes out. More than 10-15 international manufacturers meet the expected requirements of a mini-UAV.”