Exclusive || Indian Navy likely to induct India’s 1st passenger-drone, Varuna by next year: Source

Indian Navy is likely to induct the country’s first human-carrying indigenously made drone by next year, claimed a senior officer close to the development. ‘Varuna’, developed by the Indian start Sagar Defence Engineering Private Limited in Pune, is the country’s first drone with the capability to carry payloads up to 130 kg and can cover 25 km in just 30 minutes.

In an exclusive interaction with The Quotes, a source close to the development informed that offshore trials are underway at the moment, and due to the nature of the work, an exact date cannot be confirmed.

“All approvals have been received, but Varuna is currently going through trials. Indian Navy is likely to induct ‘Varuna’ by the next year,” said the source. A demo of this personal air vehicle, an autonomous multi-copter drones capable of carrying a passenger, was shown at the Naval Innovation and Indigenization Seminar held in July this year.

Sharing his insightful views, Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal (r.) told The Quotes that the “Indian Navy has rich decades-long experience of operating unmanned airborne vehicles which began with Pilot-less Targeted Aircrafts (PTAs) and UAVs.” He added that “Varuna is likely to be used for medical evacuation, personal transfer, and other requirements critical for maritime operations. I wish to emphasise that the Indian Navy is at the lead in Indian Defence innovation and has taken proactive means to harness upcoming advanced technologies via Swavlamban.”

“Varuna will be used in synergy with the operational commander’s doctrinal ingenuity and tactical acumen at sea. The passenger-carrying drone with the payload of 130Kg and range of 25 KM (i.e., 14 nm) is a brilliant tool in the Indian Navy’s arsenal. I am delighted that such advanced technology will provide a much-needed advantage to the Indian Navy in its operations,” concluded the officer.

Earlier this month, Capt. Nikunj Parashar, Founder and CEO of Sagar Defence Engineering Pvt Ltd, told The Quotes that Varuna is specially designed to take off and land from a moving vessel and handle the extreme roll pitch situation during sailing.

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Captain Parashar further informed that version -3 would be a two-seater passenger-carrying drone equipped with much more advanced technologies and capabilities. “It will be on the lines of Air Taxi to commute a shorter distance from commercial prospects but still would be able to serve its sole purpose of saving human lives during emergency evacuations and as an air medical ambulance,” he told The Quotes.

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According to Sagar Defence Engineering, Varuna-2, a passenger drone carries numerous benefits, including casualty evacuation in case of road accidents, use as an air ambulance in remote villages, use as an air taxi in metro cities, emergency evacuations, disaster relief and medical emergencies, etc.

Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal ®, is an Indian Navy Veteran, a Navigation & Aircraft Direction Specialist and a noted Scholar on Maritime Domain.

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