Army plans to procure 10 Medium Range Precision Kill System with 'loitering munitions’: All you need to know

Loitering munitions are unmanned combat aerial vehicles — popularly known as drones — which can continue to loiter in air close to the designated target, when directed, attack it by self-destructing into it

FP Staff December 23, 2021 12:13:44 IST
Army plans to procure 10 Medium Range Precision Kill System with 'loitering munitions’: All you need to know

The Indian Air Force currently uses the Harop Loitering Munitions System from the Israel Aerospace Industries. Image Courtesy: Israel Aerospace Industries

Keeping in mind the needs of modern-day warfare, the Indian Army is planning to buy Medium Range Precision Kill System {MRPKS}, comprising 120 loitering munitions, so that it can destroy enemy targets with precision.

For those who aren't aware, loitering munitions are unmanned combat aerial vehicles — popularly known as drones — which can continue to loiter in the air close to the designated target, when directed, attack it by self-destructing into it.

The Army’s Request for Information on Wednesday clearly stated that the weapon system should be indigenously designed and should possess the following characteristics:
• 10 launchers, 30 advanced observation stations
• Possess a range of 40 km
• Have a launch altitude of 4,000 metres or more
• The loitering munitions should have an endurance of a minimum of two hours and hover in the air at an altitude of a minimum of 1 km.

In addition to these, the army also said that once the target is detected, the loitering munition should be able to strike it with precision and that the MRPKS should be able to hit targets with precision in day and night operations and in all-weather conditions.

The RFI also stated that the loitering munitions should have a shelf life of at least 15 years.

What targets can they take out?

According to the Indian Army, these new systems will be an asset to the artillery branch of the army as they will be able to detect and take out static and moving targets across all types of landscape — from mountains to deserts.

The new weapons systems will be able to destroy, according to the army, radar installations, air defence systems and communication centres and dynamic targets such as enemy vehicles and troops.

Previous orders

In September, the Indian Army placed an order for 100 explosive-laden 'SkyStriker' drones, capable of long-range tactical strikes from Bengaluru-headquartered firm Alpha Design, in a joint venture (JV) with Israeli firm Elbit Security Systems.

The SkyStriker was extensively used by Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia to strike moving targets including armoured personnel carriers.

The army at the time had stated that the weapons system was a cost-effective loitering munition, capable of long-range precise tactical strikes.

The SkyStriker can reach a distance of 20 km in less than 10 minutes.

The total range for the system is around 100 km, sources have said. According to Elbit, it can loiter and pursue a target for up to two hours with a 5 kg warhead or up to one hour with a 10 kg warhead.

At maximum speed (100 knots), SkyStriker can reach a distance of 20 km within 6.5 minutes, reducing the loitering time by 15 minutes.

At present, the IAF also has in its arsenal the Israeli Harop loitering munition.

With inputs from agencies

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