NEW DELHI: In the new-found urgency to boost security in the Naxal-affected zones, particularly through strengthening of intelligence, government is working on a plan to not only acquire more UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) but also increase the window of the currently operational Heron UAVs from five-six hours to 10-12 hours and increase their nocturnal surveillance.
Managed by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), the UAVs are functioning below par because of lack of manpower. “There aren’t enough trained personnel who can remotely fly the UAVs. To get its surveillance for 10-12 hours a day people need to work in shifts as it requires high concentration. We have been losing crucial intelligence because of that,” said a senior CRPF officer.
It was because of lack of specific intelligence that led to the May 25 massacre of Congress cavalcade at Darbha in Chhattisgarh. While there was information of presence of Maoists in the area, their exact movements on the day could not be established. “There is no alternative to good human intelligence. But that is hard to come by because of a host of reasons including the tribal mistrust of the state and lack of development. UAVs come in handy in such situations,” said the officer.
He added that NTRO is already training more men for this and they would be operational within a month. “That will give us distinct advantage with a 12-hour surveillance including at night time,” said the officer.
In addition to this, CRPF is also in talks with DRDO to develop about a dozen indigenous UAVs.
Contrary to perception, Heron UAVs being used by CRPF have surveillance capability and not only capture movement of Maoists in the jungle with great clarity but also pick up their conversations. They also have nocturnal surveillance capacity and can capture small troop movements as well.
“When collector of Sukma, Alex Paul Menon, was kidnapped by Maoists in April, 2012, the UAVs had given us clear pictures of his movements. We even had pictures of the hut where Maoists had kept him,” said another senior officer.
Source: Times of India