INDIA ENTERS GLOBAL MARKET FOR SURVEILLANCE PLATFORMS
By Bulbul Singh
27 Oct 10. India has entered the global market to buy surveillance platforms, including six Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft (MRMR) for the Indian Navy, and unspecified numbers of High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE)UAVs. The HALE UAV should be able to operate at heights of up to 35000 feet and have an endurance of 25 hours and a range of up to 350 kilometers and ability to fly at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour. The other requirements of the HALE UAVs include the capability to carry out all weather day and night surveillance, reconnaissance of an area, axis or point.
A number of defence companies in Europe, Russia, Israel and United States have been asked to send details of their MRMR’s and UAVs for the program worth $1bn.
The Indian Navy’s purchase of six MRMR’s is in addition to the ongoing program by the Indian Maritime force and Coast Guard, currently in the procurement process to purchase six MRMR’s worth $460m.
The Indian Navy requires the MRMR’s with capabilities for maritime surveillance, Anti-Surface Warfare, including self-attack capabilities.
In addition the MRMR can also be used for Electronics Signals Intelligence (ELNIT), Electronic Surveillance Measures (ESM), Communication Intelligence capable of operating in day and night all-weather conditions and be fitted with an advanced Missile Approach Warning System (MAWS) and Laser Warning System.
The Indian Navy is looking for MRMR which are sturdy, have a reliable airframe, two fuel efficient engines, integrated advanced avionics incorporating ability for detection, identification and classification of all types of surface targets. The detection and tracking capability against air targets is one of the essential requirements for the MRMR.
The MRMR will be used in tropical conditions prevailing in the Indian Ocean region and as such the aircraft, engines and systems should be tropicalised and optimized for prolonged operations in salt-laden sea atmosphere.
The other requirements include the Maritime Patrol Radar’s capability to provide 360 degrees coverage for surveillance and ability to track small targets including submarine periscopes, low-flying aircraft/missiles, and surface vessels with ability to automatically track at least 50 targets.
The Indian Navy contracted purchase of 12 P-8I Long Range Maritime Aircraft (LRMR) from Boeing worth $3.1bn in two phases beginning January 2009 with the latest order in August 2010 for four additional LRMR’s.
A senior Indian Navy official said, ”The procurement process in open competition usually suffers with delay, often leading to re-bids and cancellation of tender.” The official said that he favours the purchase of MRMR’s to be made on government-to-government basis.
“The current tender, if concluded successfully, could take more than four years to process while the Indian Navy’s surveillance needs have grown,” added the Indian Navy official.