CRPF to buy advanced UAVs to fight Naxals

In a first, the Central Reserve Police Force has decided to purchase advanced versions of unmanned aerial vehicles that will be operated and run by the force itself without taking help from any external agency. The UAVs are expected to help combat the Maoists and lift real-time images. They can function in extremely windy and rainy conditions and have the capacity to be deployed within an hour of any operation announced by the security forces, thereby giving them an edge. CRPF officials said they were looking for a system which can’t be hacked or diverted by sending out false crash signals.

Live images lifted by the UAV would be viewed on laptops and palm-tops. Recently, the CRPF sought expressions of interest to purchase unspecified numbers of UAV’s. “The air vehicle should be easy to handle and have low heat and noise which is inaudible at 3000 ft. It should also have low radar signatures to avoid detection and engagement by adversary,” the EOI states.

The process to procure UAV’s is said to be initiated at the behest of DG K Vijay Kumar. The CRPF has sought that the firm providing the UAVs should train their officers to rectify mechanical glitches. “The ability to maintain and repair the UAV on our own will reduce the dependency on others as it might be deployed in extreme rugged areas where movement of people is not easy,” said a senior CRPF official.

Currently, the CRPF uses Netra — mini UAV’s — developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation which is said to have its limitations when used in dense forests. The Home Ministry has pressed the CRPF to raise a dedicated air surveillance unit for operations in Naxal-affected areas. The CRPF has expressed its dissatisfaction over the current fleet available owing to both geographical and other limitations.

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