Thursday, December 29, 2011

India gets indigenous bomb disposal unit

The Indian army's corps of engineers has taken delivery of the first six indigenously made, remotely operated vehicles designed for bomb disposal.

In 2009 the army ordered 20 of the ROV Daksh from the Defense Research and Development Organization, the government's main military equipment developer, a report by The Times of India said.

The Daksh has been designed and is being manufactured by a consortium of public and private sector businesses, led by the DRDO's robotics group at the Research and Development Establishment laboratories in Pune. Other companies include Tata Motors, Dynalog India, Theta Controls and Bharat Electronics.

"We will hand over the remaining 14 units of the order in a year's time," S. Sundaresh, DRDO's chief controller of armament combat engineering, said at a news conference following the handover to the army.

"The ROVs will be deployed in the northern and eastern command areas of the army and, based on the feedback, the DRDO will develop a further improvised variant called Daksh Mk-I," Sundaresh said.

Alok Mukherjee, head of robotics at Research and Development Establishment, said a basic ROV bought from the United Kingdom in 2002 cost around $335 million whereas the basic Daksh costs about $188 million. Around 90 percent of the machine is made in India.

"But the R&DE is providing added features including an X-ray investigation system and a mounted gun and the entire package costs $329 million," Mukherjee said.

Rakesh Bassi, director general of combat engineers, took delivery of the battery-powered and wheeled Daksh. He also monitored the field trials of Daksh at the military base in Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir state in 2008.

"The army sought modifications in the ROV, like an additional camera in the rear, a cordless operating system and a carrier vehicle suitable for all-terrain operations. All these have been met by the R&DE," he said.

It was in the early 1990s when the Indian army started to think about using ROVs "following instances of indiscriminate use of (improvised explosive devises) by terrorists and anti-nationals. We had to acquire 45 such vehicles from the United Kingdom, while the DRDO was asked to develop the ROVs," he said.

The ROV includes a mounted shotgun to shoot open locks on doors and other objects. The X-ray system locates the bomb and the vehicle's gripper arm will handle the bomb to safely dispose of it. Operational distance is more than 1,500 feet in line of sight from the controller.

It also has a radio frequency shield that when turned on jams incoming remote signals sent by a terrorist operator of the bomb or from an automatic sender that would trigger the bomb.

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