The army plans to induct mini-unmanned aerial vehicles in large numbers to give more teeth to forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in mountainous Jammu and Kashmir and thickly forested northeast.
A proposal to buy 100 to 200 mini-UAVs has been finalised by the army and an international tender is likely to be floated within a month, official sources here said.
The army has about 200 UAVs, mostly the Searcher 1, Searcher 2 and Heron supplied by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), but security experts feel mini-UAVs will give troops an edge in operations against militants.
The mini-UAVs are compact and lightweight systems designed for use in military and homeland security missions. They are smaller than regular UAVs and some models can even by launched by hand and do not require open space for take-offs.
"Mini-UAVs are operation and terrain specific and will be a major force multiplier in anti-insurgency operations," a top army official said.
Simultaneous with their induction into the army, the mini-UAVs will also be provided to paramilitary forces for use in operations against Naxalities in central India, officials said.
The procurement of these aircraft assumes significance in the wake of reports of the larger UAVs not proving very effective in operations against Maoist rebels.