Aero India: A Revelation on the Future of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Better Known as Drones

By Sai Pattabiram

Aero India, Aero India 2019, Defence Industry

BANGALORE.A grand show like Aero India means different things to different people. To the vast majority, the air display by the fighter jets was awe inspiring. For some the business of air defence was at the heart of it, while some others were focused on the opportunity to build connections that might lead to future benefits.

The grandness of the show and the sheer variety of aerospace related stakeholders had a significant take away for each one who was there.

From drones to helicopters, from toy planes to airliners, from startups to multinational manufacturers just about every conceivable aerospace business and enthusiasts were there at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore, the host of the Asia’s biggest biennial air show.

Drones made their presence felt at Aero India 2019 for the very first time with the ‘Drone Olympics’, which was specially launched for drone enthusiasts by the airshow organiser Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence, Government of India, being given a pride of place among the multitude of events. This event showcased drones and their utility in a way never seen before in India.

Zuppa unveiled for the very first time their fully Made In India “Unmanned Traffic Management” Platform ZUTM based on the automotive industry certified AIS 140 compliant device, for which discussions with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are already underway.

For Zuppa the only fully Made In India drone Brand Aero India was a huge revelation in terms of the future potential for their fully indigenous home grown tested and proven unmanned technology. The spectrum of applications for its core Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) autopilot spanned a range of civilian and defence use cases from aerial imagery based applications we are all familiar with to future trans oceanic logistics to devastative military ones similar to missiles and cluster bombs to precision strike swarm drones to anti-drone technologies like radio frequency (RF) air fence.

It was music to the ears of businesses involved in drones that the far bigger manned civilian and defence aerospace sector had to finally accept and acknowledge that their smaller unmanned cousins were evolving to be an industry with significant potential far more than anything they had ever been given credit for.

The potential high precision devastative power of the small unassuming drones when deployed in large swarms was comparable to expensive missiles was another great revelation.

Pilots talking of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) were talking of their need to operable in tandem with UAVs was another endorsement of how far the technology has got up in a very short time.

Anti Drone Air Defence was another hot topic of discussion with a dedicated seminar on the subject where an entire technical session was dedicated to integrating UAVs into civilian airspace.

There would be no exaggeration if it is said that never before were drones seen nor mentioned of in any major defence and civilian aerospace show as was the case in Aero India 2019.

Having captured the mind space it now really needs to be seen how these initiatives taken on the drone front at Aero India would translate into viable, structured ‘Make in India’ policies and regulations that would give India an edge in this emerging sunrise technology on a global scale both for Indian defence and civilian drone manufacturing.