CHENNAI, India --- Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed an unmanned, remotely operated tank which has three variants - surveillance, mine detection and reconnaissance in areas with nuclear and bio threats. It is called Muntra.
Though developed and tested for the Army by Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE) in Avadi, paramilitary has expressed interest to use them at Naxal-hit areas. That will require a few modifications.
The two remotely operated vehicles designed like an armoured tank were on display at an exhibition - Science for Soldiers - organised by DRDO as a tribute to former President APJ Abdul Kalam at CVRDe in Avadi.
Muntra-S is the country's first tracked unmanned ground vehicle developed for unmanned surveillance missions while Muntra-M is for detecting mines and Muntra-N is for operation in areas where there is a nuclear radiation or bio weapon risk.
The vehicle has been tested and validated at Mahajan field firing range in Rajasthan under dusty desert conditions where temperatures touched 52 C. Army comfortably tele-operated the vehicle. It has surveillance radar, an integrated camera along with laser range finder which can be used to spy on ground target 15km away - may be a crawling men or heavy vehicles.
The exhibition also showcased CCPT vehicle which is a remote command centre.
From a helmet-mounted night vision to nano-driven thermal and electromagnetic protection and laser weapons, DRDO showcased hundreds of products in an exhibition aimed at boosting the confidence of its employees and to change a negative perception towards the organisation in the government at heavy vehicles factory.
Besides heavy vehicles, DRDO labs also showcased a few inventions like a handheld wall penetration radar which if placed on a wall will project on a screen the presence of people inside a building and also a nano-based electro-magnetic shield which protects combat systems from electromagnetic attack and also a GSM monitoring system which helps to listen in on encrypted calls of mobile phones.
DRDO chairman S Christopher said the products displayed would convey the technical competence of the organisation to the soldiers and the society. He also said DRDO was working on installing AWAC (Airborne Early Warning and Control System) on an A330 aircraft. The system is now perfected for use on a smaller Embraer plane. The exhibition will be open to the public on Sunday.
DRDO is looking for exporting version one or two of some weapon systems which become redundant for the Army because they have acquired newer versions, said its chairman S Christopher on Friday.
After inaugurating an exhibition that showcased a wide range of products that they were in talks with countries to export weapons and systems that are phased out by the Army due to acquisition of latest versions, he said, "Older versions are good for some countries which have shown interest. Some of the systems under development too could be exported. It would also create goodwill."
He, however, did not reveal name of any country. He also said DRDO had urged the government to "allow us to test the products which we may not want immediately but can still be developed and exported. Torpedoes, rockets and missiles are a few products that are being considered for export." He gave the example of Pinaki rocket as latest GPS-driven ones have been developed.
Christopher also said DRDO products were ranked well world over. "We are fourth in the world in AWAC and fighter planes, fifth in missiles. Arjun is not far away from being the best among some countries."
As the thrust is on roping in private companies, DRDO is looking at capitalising on intellectual property. Private companies are being roped in because they are better placed to market and manufacture DRDO products and the Army seems to be more receptive when products are presented by private companies. Already 1 lakh crore has been generated in two years.
"If we can generate 5 lakh crore in five years we do not have to depend on government for funds," he said.