The Switch unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an indigenous fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) hybrid tactical drone built by India-based UAV manufacturer ideaForge.
The drone is designed to support the most demanding surveillance missions of the Indian armed and security forces. It offers improved flight time and performs high-altitude operations with additional fail-safe redundancies ensuring increased safety.
The tactical UAV was launched at the DEFEXPO 2020 defence exhibition held in Lucknow, India in February 2020.
The Indian Army placed a $20m order with ideaForge for an undisclosed number of Switch UAVs in January 2021. Deliveries are expected be completed by January 2022.
The UAV was selected by the Indian Army after successful flight testing in the highly demanding terrains and weather conditions of Ladakh in 2018.
Switch UAV missions
The Switch drone supports various defence and homeland security applications including long endurance intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), security, anti-terror, border security, counter insurgency, crime control, inspection, crowd monitoring, traffic monitoring, disaster management, and other long duration missions.
The UAV can also be used for industrial applications such as photogrammetry, precision agriculture, industrial asset inspection, construction and real estate, and mining.
Design and features
The Switch UAV weighs 6.5kg and measures 2.6m long and 1.8m wide. The easy to carry and deployable unmanned aircraft has IP53 rating for dust and water resistance.
The design combines the fixed-wing and VTOL capabilities. In the fixed-wing mode, an engine-powered two-blade pusher propeller generates the lift for the aircraft. In the VTOL mode, the lift and propulsion is provided by four two-blade rotors and an electric motor.
The VTOL capability provides easy to launch and recovery without the need for a launcher in remote and restricted areas as well as long endurance capability.
The unmanned aircraft features two main wings and two tail booms with stabilisers and is outfitted with skid type landing gear.
The Switch tactical UAV is equipped with a combined day and night payload beneath its fuselage.
The payloads include a 25x optical zoom daylight camera with a resolution of 1280×720 pixels to capture imagery and video during day time, and a thermal imaging infrared camera with 640×480 pixels for night time operations.
Navigation and communications of Switch UAV
The UAV uses multiple global positioning system (GPS) sensors to provide more reliability and fail-safe redundancy in the event of a failure of communication or signal loss in one of the GPS modules.
The built-in fail-safe features of the aircraft allow it to return to the home point safely in strong wind conditions and when its low battery warning is triggered.
Ground control station
The ground control station (GCS) provides command and control for the Switch drone and its payloads via a high range communication box.
The GCS is composed of a laptop or tablet computer featuring integrated application software with geographic map and video view, USB port, and a handheld controller.
The computer enables pre-flight self check, live flight parameters, and real-time video streaming, while the handheld controller allows for complete camera control of pan, tilt, zoom, and black/white hot modes.
A secure uplink and downlink is provided to encrypted video and telemetry data transmissions.
Performance of Switch UAV
The Switch drone has a line of sight range of 15km and can withstand wind speeds up to 20km/h. The maximum flight time of the unmanned aerial vehicle is two hours.
The maximum launch altitude of the UAV is 4,000m above mean sea level and the maximum operating altitude is 1,000m above the ground level.