New Delhi: An indigenous loitering munition, capable of operating from difficult terrain and high altitude areas, has reached a milestone by successfully demonstrating its strike capability during tests conducted at Pokhran on Thursday.
Developed by TATA Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), the autonomous system is designed for Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) and will soon be inducted into the armed forces. Sources told ET that the system – named ALS 50 – accurately hit the ground target with an explosive warhead during trials.
The test is a landmark for the private industry which has scaled up efforts in recent years to develop tailored solutions for the armed forces, on the back of policy initiatives steered by the Defence Ministry. The ALS 50 – which can take off like a quadcopter and transitions into fixed wing mode during flight for long distance travel – has also demonstrated its ability to operate from high altitude areas during tests in Ladakh earlier this year.
Developed by a team of young engineers at TASL, the ALS 50 has an autonomous targeting system that can accurately identify and home into a pre-determined target. The system can also be scaled up to increase range and payload capability, as per requirements of the armed forces. Future development can also include integration of Artificial Intelligence and swarming capabilities.
The VTOL capability gives the system the ability to operate in areas where limited space is available, like narrow valleys, fortified mountain positions, small jungle clearings and the decks of warships. The armed forces have been looking to induct a range of loitering munitions – relatively low cost ‘suicide drones’ that can be used to accurately take down high value targets like command centres, missile launchers and enemy armour.