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A Drone Olympics the Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans as part of Aero India 2019 in Bengaluru will help it check out the full range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) available for military adaptation.

The ministry came around to the idea of a drone contest to fully understand the range of capabilities of drones that smaller manufacturers produce, according to a report.

Minister of Defence Nirmala Sitharaman opened the webpage of the Drone Olympics, which will be held on the opening day of Aero India 2019 from February 21 to 24.

MoD officials think the contest will help its sample the UAV market. The website makes it clear that the government will offer a range of prizes to the contest winners. "The Government of India is organising a 'Drone Olympics' under which various drone competitions shall be held and winners will be honoured with medals and cash prizes. Come forward and participate in the competition," the website says.

Security forces across the world are deploying UAVs in an increasing number of situations as warfare evolves into high-tech, net-centric affairs more and more remotely fought. Their uses include battlefield surveillance, aerial photography, terrain mapping and delivering a payload as well as loitering for targets to emerge and launching remotely fired missiles on targets.

The military has a long shopping list of UAVs including 22 sophisticated, high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) Sea Guardian drones. There are other small, man-portable, shoulder-launched drones for tactical surveillance on the list.

Reports say the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation is in advanced stages of its indigenous, medium altitude, long endurance (MALE) drone  named Rustom II.

Over and above these, the MoD wants to vet the small high-tech manufacturers that build small drones capable of military activities that would have a force multiplier effect. The government wants to focus on such drones and get a chance to evaluate them through the Drone Olympics.

"It will not only encourage the UAV manufacturing in the country but also provide an opportunity to the armed forces to assess the capabilities that exist in the world," Sithraman said at the launch of the page.

Officials say the contests, which has two weight categories of under 4kg and 4-7kg, is open to domestic and international manufacturers and will feature competitions in three different domains. of

surveillance challenge to assess the ability to monitor and recce a specified area, supply drop challenge requiring drones to carry a 2kg load to a point 2km away, and formation flying challenge to assess the ability to fly in formation in a group.