India has plans to buy 5,000 UAVs in next 10 years. In Picture: An Israeli-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flies over Porbandar, during its commissioning into the Indian Navy, Jan. 17, 2011.Reuters

Even as the Indian defence ministry is mulling over a proposal to equip its infantry and mechanised battalion units with mini unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), a new report suggests that India has already planned on acquiring over 5,000 such drones by 2026.

India may spend about $3 million on the UAVs that will be built indigenously by Indian companies, possibly under the current government's "Make in India" initiative, InSerbia News reported citing sources close to the defence ministry.

The report said that the defence ministry is preparing a blueprint that will help Indian armed forces to have better battlefield awareness. The blueprint will contain plans to provide the army with UAVs for its battalion units, and the Indian Air Force will be armed with surveillance UAVs and Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV).

Both the forces are expected to be get mini and micro UAVs, designed for surveillance and nuclear, biological and chemical detection in the battlefield.

The government is also mulling calling fresh tenders for a variety of UAVs, following the completion of a study on bomber UAV and a fighter UAV development.

Currently, the Indian armed forces use Israeli-made Searcher Mark I, Searcher Mark II, Heron and Herop UAVs and DRDO-made Nishant UAV. Meanwhile, DRDO 's ambitious Medium Altitude Long Endurance UCAV programme is under development. There are two versions of the UCAV, Rustom-1 and Rustom-2.

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