India’s National Security Challenged by Escalating Drone Threats

India’s National Security Challenged by Escalating Drone Threats

India's National Security Challenged by Escalating Drone Threats

In the summer of 2021, India’s Air Force Station in Jammu experienced its first drone attack by low-flying drones carrying improvised explosive devices. Although the attack caused no severe damage nor injuries, the government has come to learn the seriousness of the phenomenon as hundreds of intrusions have since been reported along the Pakistan border.

To address national and cross-border threats, the Indian Army and local law enforcement agencies rely on drone intelligence for surveillance and detecting intrusions. The Delhi police force has already used drones in demonstrations that resulted in devastating riots during the 2020 elections. Indian authorities have also deployed surveillance drones in strategic tourist and government locations and vulnerable national railway infrastructures.

The Indian Navy also signed a contract to supply the country with its first domestically made naval anti-drone system. The NADS system will provide a wide range of mitigation capabilities to detect, intercept, and neutralise threatening drones. Currently, the Indian government is in the process of acquiring thirty units of the MQ-9B Predator drone, the USA’s most advanced military UAV, from the General Atomics Global Corporation.

According to the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry, the drone industry is expected to reach $1.9 billion by 2026 and become the world’s third-largest drone market. Recent reports indicate that India already counts over 150 drone-related start-ups, demonstrating the fast evolution and innovative ecosystem of drone threats.

Such growth can only come directly from invested efforts by the government, small and large corporations’ interests and substantial investments in research and development. Although drones in India were first introduced in military and defence, commercial drones are primarily utilised in the following sectors: industrial sites, infrastructure, agriculture, highways, mining, railways, healthcare, power and energy, critical utilities, and emerging technologies.

Deploying relevant solution infrastructure for detection, identification, and localisation techniques, the Indian Armed Forces’ foremost challenge is establishing an integrated system that shares intelligence layers and deploys all forces and authorities involved.

Another critical task is implementing large-scale rules and regulations with a country-wide unmanned traffic management system.

India’s airspace defence system should be strategically located and adapted to counter all malicious drones. An integrated system would feature radar, communication intelligence, aerial data, EO/IR, Jammer, and C4i command centres. Deploying fixed, mobile, and additional solutions along critical areas, with high-grade and long-range sensors and communication protocols, will pave the way to successfully mitigating potential attacks.

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