The Indian Army is looking for more indigenously designed smart loiter munitions to use with its mechanised formations to eliminate enemy armoured units in order to keep up with changing battlefield requirements.
The Army expects to order 150 of these weapons, known as Canister Launched Anti-Armour Loiter Munitions (CALM) Systems, to be installed atop the Carrier Mortar Tracked (CMT), a modified version of the BMP 2/3 infantry battle vehicle already in service.
CALM is expected to be deployed across the plains and deserts along the western border, as well as high altitude areas up to 16,500 feet along the northern border, according to an Army request for information (RFI) issued on April 8.
Loiter weapons combine the capabilities of a surface-to-air missile and a drone. While a missile, once launched, heads straight to its target after a few minutes of flight, loiter munitions, which also carry warheads and onboard surveillance equipment, are launched in a similar manner to a drone and stay aloft for longer periods of time, surveying a designated area and seeking targets.
They act like a missile to destroy a target once it has been discovered and locked on. Loiter munitions can be recovered if a mission is aborted or there are no eligible targets. Loiter munitions, on the other hand, are smaller, less expensive, and less sophisticated than combat or armed drones.
The army is looking for a tube or canister-launched system that can observe, identify, and engage non-line-of-sight targets such as enemy armoured vehicles, other ground-based weapon platforms, and troop positions from a range of 15 kilometres and with a flight endurance of at least 60 minutes at any time of day or night.
The Army has recently taken attempts to enlist the help of the private sector to buy various types and quantities of loiter munitions. Some companies have already shown off prototypes of loiter weapons they have developed. According to reports, the Air Force has also purchased loiter munitions from Israel to satisfy its own needs.
The Armed Forces are putting a lot of emphasis on developing and procuring indigenous unmanned systems like swarm drones and combat unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as counter-drone technologies.