Image for representational purpose only,

To strengthen the Air Force of the two countries and as part of the Indo-US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), US Air Force Research Labs and a Bangalore based startup, NewSpace Research and Technologies Pvt Ltd will together develop futuristic air-launched drones for the armed forces.

The drones developed will probably be used by Air force to add a combat aircraft on mission. The selected startup, NewSpace Research and Technologies Pvt Ltd will work within the alliance of US Air Force Research Labs, the Indian Air Force, and the Indian government’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Usually, these projects are carried out by the government-owned DRDO. But given this decision from the US counterpart, it is evident that they want to work with Indian companies and startups. And if the project is successful, it would be the first such story under the DTTI, which is yet to taste success in its initiatives.

The inter-governmental DTTI has failed to show positive results for years now, despite rigorous efforts from both USA and India. The office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment says that DTTI was launched to explore the scope of cooperation on defense technology, but it became narrow due to the “differing bureaucratic processes and legal requirements”.

The move to involve private companies in DTTI was welcomed by the experts. Angad Singh of Observer Research Foundation (ORF) said to ET, “A lot of the work under DTTI isn’t terribly advanced, certainly not the kind that requires high-level enabling S&T research from organizations like DRDO and DARPA. Given that, it makes sense to involve private businesses, particularly the more agile and specialized outfits, to collaborate on meeting high-level requirements set out by the militaries of both sides”.

Ellen M Lord, Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment, at a seminar last year had referred to the new air-launched drones project but did not mention the involvement of any Indian startup.