Tiny rotors whirring, the quadcopters raced across the field, their electronic eyes scanning the ground. After a 15-minute flight, the drones located their target—a solitary T-55 battle tank. Their cameras matched its image with a library of onboard targets. The drones then proceeded to drop their payload on the tank.
The demonstration was performed at an army cantonment in Secunderabad this August as officials from the Indian Army’s Simulator Development Division (SDD) tested drones fielded by a handful of private vendors. Had this been a live combat situation, the shaped charges (explosives designed to transmit all their blast force downwards) dropped by the drone would have punched through the top of the tank—where its armour is the thinnest—destroying it. This is the concept the army was looking to prove: the ability of drone swarms to demolish tanks over the horizon, beyond the range of ground-based anti-tank missiles.
Based on these tests, the army last month placed…