According to a news report in aviation news journal Flight Global, India's aerospace research laboratory, the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), is going to organize a demonstration of micro air vehicles (MAVs) in an urban environment in March 2008 for the US Army. The demonstration will most likely take place at an Indian defence facility in Agra in the northern part of India.
The event will be the first US-Asian demonstration for an assessment of micro-air vehicle technologies.
The micro air vehicle (MAV) is a new breed of remotely controlled aircraft that are significantly smaller than similar unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The dimensions aimed for MAVs currently is approximately six inches (15 centimeters) and development of insect-size aircraft is reportedly expected in the near future.
Potential military use is one of the driving factors.
The US Army is said to be requesting proposals for micro air vehicle technology demonstrators with the following capabilities:
- Autonomous route de-confliction
- Co-operative formation flying
- Vision-based navigation,
- Acoustic sensing
- Building interior mapping
With these capabilities, the US Army can also use MAVs for likely counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency operations in urban and congested environments.
MAV demonstrators would be test flown at a six-day event planned for March 2008. The goal is to identify technology shortfalls that must be overcome to achieve these capabilities, as well as commercial off-the-shelf components that are applicable in urban-environment MAVs.
Three types of MAVs are under investigation. Airplane-like fixed wing model, bird- or insect- like ornithopter (flapping wing) model, and helicopter-like rotating wing model.
According to the Flight Global report, bidders "deemed to be meritorious" will be requested to submit proposals that could result in the award of US Army grants.
During the March event, candidate demonstrators would be flown at an Indian ministry of defence facility in Agra, northern India.
India's National Aerospace Laboratories in Bangalore is organising the event for the US Army International Technology Center, south-east Asia office. The initiative is supported by the India's Defence Research and Development Organisation.