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Nagastra-1: India’s first indigenous suicide drone

These drones are designed to hover around a target area until they find a target, then attack by crashing into it

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Nagastra-1: India’s first indigenous suicide drone
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In a major step towards India’s goal of becoming self-reliant in defence, the Indian Army is about to introduce its first locally made loitering munition, called the Nagastra-1. Loitering munitions can circle above a target area and wait for the right moment to strike. These drones are designed to hover around a target area until they find a target, then attack by crashing into it.
 
Most industries in India do not have the expertise to create weaponized drones for combat. This advanced technology was developed by Solar Industries in Nagpur and marks an important achievement for the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (‘Self-Reliant India’) initiative. Solar Industries took on the arduous task of manufacturing several kinds of weaponized drones and the successful production of the Nagastra-1 is a good beginning. This progress is set to greatly enhance India’s ability to use UAVs as powerful tools in warfare.
 
The Indian Army has ordered the purchase of 480 drone munitions from Economic Explosives Ltd (EEL), a company fully owned by Solar Industries, as part of an emergency consignment. 
 
EEL, in partnership with Z-Motion Autonomous Systems Pvt. Ltd in Bangalore, has used more than 75% locally sourced components to design and develop the Nagastra-1. After successful inspection from May 20 to May 25, EEL has delivered the first batch of 120 drone munitions to the Ammunition Depot in Pulgaon.
 
VITAL STATISTICS OF THE DRONE
 
1. Precision Strikes: Nagastra-1 is designed for accurate strikes and can take out enemy targets with GPS-guided precision within a two-metre range
 
2. Highly Portable System: The system is very portable, weighing a total of 30 kilograms split between two backpacks. These include the Ground Control Station, Communication Control, Payload and Pneumatic Launcher
 
3. Easy to Carry: This lightweight, fixed-wing electric drone, which can be carried by a single person, weighs 9 kg and can fly for 30 minutes
 
4. Operational Range: Controlled by an operator, this drone has an operational range of 15 kilometres vis-à-vis 30 kilometres in autonomous mode
 
5. Quiet Operation: The electric propulsion system ensures a low acoustic signature, implying that it is very quiet, making the drone difficult for enemies to detect when it flies at a height above 200 metres
 
6. Surveillance & Armament: The drone is equipped with day-and-night surveillance cameras and carries a 1 kg high-explosive fragmenting warhead—a type of explosive that breaks up into small pieces upon detonation, causing damage over a wider area—to neutralise soft-skin targets, which are vehicles, or objects, without heavy armour, such as trucks or equipment, which are more vulnerable to damage from explosives or shrapnel
 
7. Recall and Reuse: If a target is not found, or the mission is cancelled, the loitering munition can be recalled. It uses a parachute recovery system to make a soft landing, allowing it to be reused multiple times. The capability to abort a mission, and recover and reuse the Nagastra-1, makes it stand out from similar systems developed by other advanced countries
 
The Nagastra-1’s success is striking, since it underscores the ethos of modern drone technology in military operation reinforcement. This was evident in the recent conflict scenarios in several war zones, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Azerbaijan. In India, increasing drone incidents along the northern borders emphasise the need for such homegrown solutions.
 
(The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach him at: girishlinganna@gmail.com)
 
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect those of DNA
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