An "undisclosed quantity" of a high-altitude variant of SWITCH unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will soon be in the possession of the Indian Army after it signed a contract with ideaForge at a cost of approximately $20 million.
According to the drone startup, founded by IIT Bombay alumni, the fixed-wing UAV, capable of vertical takeoff and landing, can be deployed at high altitude and harsh environments for day-and-night surveillance. It is man-portable and has the highest time on target compared to any other UAV in its class.
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"ideaForge has been awarded this contract after it emerged as the only vendor that qualified the operational requirements in an evaluation done in real-world conditions, for a fast-track procurement," the Mumbai-based company said.
The drone will be delivered to the army during the course of a year.
ideaForge CEO Ankit Mehta stated that SWITCH UAV is the culmination of insights and knowledge the company has gained over years of experience in helping the Indian forces operationalise UAVs in their ranks.
"The trials saw about a dozen national and global players compete to meet the operational requirements. SWITCH UAV is the only product that cleared the Indian Army's stringent product trials and surpassed expectations," he noted.
With the deal, a strategic shift in the procurement process of the Indian defence services has emerged. The Indian Army is on its way to attain an aggressive modernization drive. It has also cemented ideaForges position as Indias largest manufacturer of drones for defence, homeland security and industrial applications.
The company has a diverse set of clientele, including Indian Armed Forces, central armed police forces and state police forces. It also has a list of industrial customers in areas such as geospatial surveying, oil and gas, and mining.
After the news of the deal broke, the alma mater of the company's founders IIT Bombay congratulated them on their feat.
"Congratulations to SINE and our hearty congratulations to Ankit, Rahul and Ashish. It is worth mentioning that they were bestowed with the Young Alumni Achiever award last year," IIT-Bombay posted on its official Facebook page.