In a bid to gear up its force for a "big" anti-extremist operation in the Maoist hotbeds, especially in areas prone to attacks, the Central Resrve Police Force (CRPF) is engaged in adding updated gadgets and arms to its armoury. In the process, the force will use an upgraded version of the Netra-V2 drone named 'Micro UAV A-410'.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighing 6 kg with payload and battery is an updated version of Netra-V2 -- the drone being used by the CRPF for several years in Maoist-affected areas to carry out operations against the rebel groups, which has proved to be an indispensable asset in surveillance, reconnaissance and rescue operations on numerous occasions.
With a "cruise speed" of 35 km per hour, the UAV A-410 has the capacity to fly for around 60 minutes in one go at an altitude of 600 metres, covering 5 km range. It has dual camera system both for day and night. The day camera has 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution with 10x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom. The night camera has thermal imaging capacity of 640 x 480 pixel resolution and 4x digital zoom.
"Micro UAV A-410 is a vertical takeoff and landing small RPAS for quick deployment from confined locations with 60-minute endurance. It provides autonomous operation from takeoff to landing with digital encrypted communication link. It has full HD camera and reliable aerial imaging for surveillance and security operations," said an CRPF officer.
The 'Made in India' drone being manufactured by Asteria Aerospace is expected to be included in the CRPF armoury by April or May end, sources in the CRPF told IANS.
The CRPF, a 3.5 lakh strong force under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) with mandatory responsibility to provide internal security across the country as well as Maoist-hit states and Jammu and Kashmir, will procure 40 such drones and use them in different regions of its deployments.
One Micro UAV A-410 is expected to cost between Rs 12 lakh and Rs 15 lakh.
Sources in the CRPF and the MHA told IANS that the procurement of the drone is part of a process to upgrade the force's armoury to launch a "big operation against Maoists before the monsoon this year". However, it is not yet clear as to which of the Maoist hit hotbeds will be targeted by the security force.
There are 90 Maoist-affected districts across 11 states in India which are covered under the Security Related Expenditure scheme. This includes 19 districts in Jharkhand, 16 in Bihar, 15 in Odisha, 14 in Chhattisgarh, 8 in Telangana, 6 in Andhra Pradesh, three each in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala and one district in West Bengal.
In reply to unstarred questions in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home G. Kishan Reddy had said in the Monsoon Session last year that Maoist violence was reported in only 61 districts in 2019 and in 46 districts in the first half of 2020.
He said there has been a steady decline in violence and the geographical influence of Maoists in the country. He cited that the number of civilians and security personnel killed in Maoist violence has reduced from 1,005 in 2010 to 202 in 2019. In 2020 till September, the number of fatalities stood at 102. Moreover, 4,022 Left-wing extremists had surrendered till then since 2015.
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