ideaForge bags largest mini-VTOL UAV defence contract globally

As a part of this contract, ideaForge, which develops and manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles, shall deliver 200 systems to augment the Indian Army’s surveillance capabilities.
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Mumbai startup ideaForge, which develops and manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles (UVAs), has won the largest single VTOL Mini UAV defence contract globally for its SWITCH UAV

The traditional understanding was that a fixed wing UAV would be the ideal solution for last-mile deployments. On analysing the actual operational constraints that the Indian Army faced, ideaForge realised that a Hybrid Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) platform, which can take off without a runway or by hand launching, would be the ideal solution, the company said.

As a part of this contract, ideaForge shall deliver 200 systems to augment the Indian Army’s surveillance capabilities. Each system is made up of an undisclosed number of Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) Mini UAVs. 

ideaForge won this contract against competition from Israel, Russia, Ukraine, France, India, and others. The SWITCH UAV was the only system that emerged successful from the rigorous testing and field trials that the Indian Army is well known for, the company said in a press release.

The startup was founded in 2007 by IIT Bombay alumni Ankit Mehta, Rahul Singh, Ashish Bhat, and Vipul Joshi.

“ideaForge has engineered this product with the unique VTOL approach keeping in mind the terrain challenges in the operational areas of the Indian Army. Our drones are ‘Built like a bird and tested like a tank’, an expression we coined as our systems were undergoing the harshest field trials and lab testing as a part of our journey to bagging this contract,” said Ankit Mehta, Co-founder and CEO, ideaForge.

“Looking ahead, we want to take this expertise across the world to everyone in need of protecting their borders or to empower their forces with unprecedented last mile situational awareness,” he added.

ideaForge claims that it has by far the largest market share in the security, surveillance, and industrial market for drones. Its customers include the Indian Defence and Homeland Security Forces, who have conducted over 220,000 missions using its drones.

“UAVs are indispensable for ISR. This contract for Mini VTOL UAVs is the result of a five year long intensive procurement procedure. We are happy that the contract has been awarded to an Indian firm, ideaForge, who have proven the test of time, weather, terrain and performance against other global systems, contributing to the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat,” said Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd), former DGMO and Director CENJOWS. 

In the Union Budget of 2022, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman talked about Drone Shakti. The government announced that 68 percent of its Defence Capital Procurement budget would be reserved for domestic organisations.

“Startups will be promoted to facilitate ‘Drone Shakti’ through varied applications and for Drone-as-a-Service (DrAAS),” Sitharaman said in her speech.

Edited by Megha Reddy

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