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Drone attacks at IAF Jammu station


In a terror attack, two low-intensity explosions left two Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel injured at the Jammu Air Force Station and the devices are suspected to have been dropped and detonated by unmanned aerial vehicles.


GS-III: Internal Security Challenges (Defence Technology), GS-III: Science and Technology, GS-II: Governance (Government Policies & Interventions)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Drones
  2. Usage of Drones Explored in India
  3. Drone Attacks
  4. About the Drone attack on Jammu Air Force Station
  5. Regulation of Drone usage in India

About Drones

  • Drone is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA). There are three subsets of Unmanned Aircraft- Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), Autonomous Aircraft and Model Aircraft.
  • Remotely Piloted Aircraft consists of remote pilot station(s), the required command and control links and any other components, as specified in the type design.
  • Drones offer low-cost, safe and quick aerial surveys for data collection and are useful for industries such as power, mining, realty, oil and gas exploration, railways and highways. They are also effective in relief and rescue work and in policing.
  • DGCA has designed five different categories of drones as: Nano, Micro, Small, Medium, and Large.

Usage of Drones Explored in India

  • Agriculture- Gather data and automate redundant processes to maximize efficiency, to spray medicines, In a process of planting by distributing seed on the land, etc.
  • Healthcare- Delivering quick access to drugs, blood, and medical technology in remote areas, transportation of harvested organs to recipients (through drones corridor), etc.
  • Disaster Management- Surveillance of disaster-affected areas to assess damage, locate victims, and deliver aid.
  • Urban Planning- Instant mapping and survey of the land which has to be developed avoiding congestion and increasing green cover. E.g.: Recently, the Greater Chennai Municipal Corporation (GCMC) became first Municipal Corporation to map Chennai using drones.
  • Conservation of Endangered Species- Monitor and track the number of animals.
  • Weather Forecasting- Drones can physically follow weather patterns as they develop to understand the environment and imminent weather trends in a better way.
  • Waste Management- Identify where the garbage is so that it can be picked up the garbage picking vans. Drones can be used to clean ocean waste as well. UAV like Roomba by RanMarine operates at the vanguard of these initiatives and have helped to clean oceans in past.
  • Mining- Drones in mining can be used in volumetric data capturing of ore, rock and minerals storage which is extremely difficult to measure manually.

Drone Attacks

  • With the rapid proliferation of drone technology and exponential growth of its global market in recent years, the possibility of a drone attack cannot be ruled out even in the safest cities in the world.
  • Drones are becoming security threats particularly in conflict zones where non-state actors are active and have easy access to the technology.
  • The primary reason for this proliferation is that drones are relatively cheaper in comparison to conventional weapons and yet can achieve far more destructive results.
  • The biggest advantage that comes with using a drone for combat purpose is that it can be controlled from a remote distance and does not endanger any member of the attacking side.
  • Drones fly low and therefore cannot be detected by any radar system and this ensures their effective usage by negating chances of detection and neutralization.
  • It is this easy-to-procure, easy-to-operate, and proven damage potential that makes it important for any country to equip its forces with anti-drone combat technology.
  • These threats aside, what makes combat drones in the hands of non-state actors most dangerous is the threat of them being used deliver weapons of mass destruction.

About the Drone attack on Jammu Air Force Station

  • Drones were used for the first time to drop explosive devices, triggering blasts inside the Air Force Station’s technical area in Jammu.
  • However, over the past two years, drones have been deployed regularly by Pakistan-based outfits to smuggle arms, ammunition and drugs into Indian territory.
  • Although the local police suspect that the drones were flown from across the border, it is yet to be established beyond doubt
  • Officials said the incident could be an extension of the trend Pakistan-based syndicates using drones to smuggle drugs and weapons into the Indian side, apart from conducting aerial surveillance.
  • There have been warnings that Pakistan-based terrorist groups could attempt to target military bases with drones. After the drone attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Eastern Saudi Arabia in September 2019, the armed forces held deliberations on the issue and put in place plans to procure counter-drone capabilities.

Regulation of Drone usage in India

Drone Regulation 1.0

  • Drone Regulation 1.0 is a set of guidelines issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for commercial use of drones or remotely operated aircraft came into force from 2018.
  • Under this regulation, the Digital Sky Platform will enable online registration of pilots, devices, service providers, and NPNT (no permission, no take-off).
  • The Digital Sky Platform is a unique unmanned traffic management (UTM) system which is expected to facilitate registration and licensing of drones and operators in addition to giving instant (online) clearances to operators for every flight.
  • The airspace has been partitioned into Red Zone (flying not permitted), Yellow Zone (controlled airspace), and Green Zone (automatic permission). The restricted locations are airports, near international border, near coastline, state secretariat complexes strategic locations, military installations.

Drone Regulations 2.0

  • Drone regulations 2.0, focuses on three thresholds:
    • BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight),
    • Delivery of payloads, and
    • Automate the air traffic management to the extent possible.
  • The current policy allows one drone pilot for each drone whereas in the next set of regulations, one pilot can operate any number of drones. Under drone regulations 2.0, the drones will be tracked by computers through artificial intelligence.
  • However, delivery of products by e-commerce players like Amazon and flying taxis like Uber Elevate are likely to be part of drone regulations 3.0.

Draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020

  • The Draft Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Rules, 2020 are a set of rules notified by the government aims to regulate the production, import, trade, ownership, establishment of the drone ports (airports for drones) and operation of unmanned aircraft systems. It also seeks to create a framework for drones use by businesses.
  • The Rules state that an authorised manufacturer or importer of drones can sell its devices only to an individual or entity approved by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and only Nano class drones will be allowed to operate in India in general and only a qualified remote pilot will be permitted to operate heavier drones.
  • The DGCA will have the powers to inspect a UAS manufacturing or maintenance facility before granting any authorisation under these rules.
  • No UAS shall operate in India unless there is in existence a valid third-party insurance policy to cover the liability that may arise on account of a mishap involving such UAS.
  • No UAS should carry any payload except as permitted by the DGCA.
  • No person shall drop or project or permit to be dropped from a UAS in motion any object except when specified.
  • For owning and using a drone, one has to be at least 18 years old and in the case of companies, the requirement is that their main place of business has to be in India and the chairman and at least two thirds of directors have to be Indian citizens.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023