Indian Army modernizes logistics, retires mules for drones and robotics

The dependable and surefooted mules that have served the Army for over a century, transporting vital loads through challenging terrains and harsh weather to forward border posts, are gradually becoming a part of history.

In line with the ongoing “force restructuring and optimization” initiative aimed at reducing manpower by around one lakh personnel by 2027, the Army is phasing out its animal transport fleet, and inducting logistics drones, robotic mules, all-terrain vehicles, and rough-terrain vehicles.

As part of this transition, legacy units like animal transport companies are being disbanded. The Army has already decreased the number of “mountain artillery mules” by 1,500, with plans to phase out the remaining ones by 2025. Over 3,300 “general service mules” responsible for transporting essential supplies will be retired by the end of the decade, leading to a 70% reduction in the number of animal transport companies by 2030.

Simultaneously, the Army has embraced modern technology, signing contracts worth over Rs 320 crore for 563 logistics drones designed for high-altitude deliveries. Additionally, a Rs 285-crore deal has been finalized for 100 four-legged robotic mules capable of autonomous movement in diverse terrains up to 10,000 feet. Another contract worth almost Rs 70 crore is for 300 rough-terrain vehicles, each capable of carrying over 100kg of load.

The transition away from animal transport will result in the closure of five mobile field veterinary hospitals and the remount training school and depot, where mules are bred and trained. While acknowledging the challenges of maintaining animal transport companies, officers emphasize that technology integration will enhance the capacity and efficiency of operational logistics in forward areas. The unsung heroes, the mules, deserve a well-earned rest as the military adapts to modern advancements.

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