Shock discovery of Pakistani intruders occupying the strategic heights of Kargil and its aftermath was as forceful a reminder as any of the necessity of keeping a constant vigil on the country’s borders. It was also clear that the then available means of surveillance (mainly army patrols and occasional aerial reconnaissance) were grossly inadequate for the onerous task. Consequently ideas of employing unmanned platforms to keep an eye on the long land borders and shores which had been brewing for sometime took on fresh urgency.
Even while guns were still blazing in Kargil, plans began to be laid to integrate UAVs in border surveillance plans. In the two decades that have followed, Indian armed forces have acquired more than 200 UAVs mostly of Israeli origin. DRDO which had been dabbling with UAV design for some time also got in the act and working in collaboration with Indian industry has made some progress in creating indigenous capacity. Perceived necessity of close surveillance was the original purpose of UAVs. However, sensing enhanced possibilities with maturing of relevant technologies at home, Indian armed forces have widened their horizons to include them for kinetic action against suitable targets. Therefore, it is quite possible that a future surgical strike across the LOC may well be a precision missile attack executed by employing UAVs. Read More