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  • Writer's pictureNikhil Gangamkote

The ALS-50 Loitering "Suicide Drone" is a highly dangerous weapon designed for military use..!

TATA Advance Systems Limited (TASL) recently delivered the Advanced Loitering System-50 (ALS-50), also known as the "Suicide Drone," to the Indian Air Force (IAF). This development reduces reliance on foreign military imports and aligns with India's "Make in India" initiative. The ALS-50 was showcased at DefExpo 2022 and received recognition from the Raksha Mantri's Award for Excellence in the Defence and Aerospace Sector.

Loitering munitions, or advanced autonomous missiles, hover in the air, identify targets, and accurately strike them. They can be remotely controlled during the loitering phase and equipped with cameras for target reconnaissance.

Once a target is identified, the drone can be directed to dive and detonate its warhead. However, engaging moving targets like tanks or boats can pose challenges. Loitering munitions are also used for stationary targets using a "fire and forget" approach.

The deployment of such munitions raises questions about autonomous weapons, target identification procedures, compliance with laws of war, and the future of warfare.

The ALS-50 drone measures 2.4 meters in length, has a wingspan of 3.8 meters, and a maximum take-off weight of 50 kg. It has a range exceeding 50 km and can remain airborne for over an hour. The drone features vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capability, making it suitable for various terrains, including high-altitude and mountainous regions.

It can be launched as a quadcopter and switch to a fixed-wing mode for longer distances. With its autonomous and precise attack capabilities, the ALS-50 minimizes risks for personnel. The drone enables the IAF to conduct missions and execute swift precision strikes in diverse environments.

The induction of the ALS-50 strengthens India's offensive capabilities and aligns with the country's self-reliance goals in defense procurement. In light of ongoing conflicts and regional threats, including the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the acquisition of loitering munitions has become increasingly important.

India's geographical location and the perceived threats from China and Pakistan necessitate the development and deployment of such technologies to enhance offensive systems and national security.

India has increased its defense budget allocation, and defense exports have reached record levels, contributing to the growth of the defense sector. The ALS-50, being cost-effective and accurate, is expected to further boost India's defense exports.

Loitering munitions bridge the gap between human-guided weapons and autonomous systems, and their unique advantages, including mid-air recall capabilities, make them highly valuable.

Compared to traditional missiles, mortars, and rockets, loitering munitions offer versatility in launch platforms and cost-effectiveness. They can be launched from land, sea, or air, including man-portable systems, combat vehicles, and aircraft.

These munitions have a low radar cross-section, making them less detectable than traditional cruise missiles. Their applications in future military operations are evident, and India's procurement of such systems enhances its overall security and combat readiness.

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