New Delhi: In a bid to boost the operation capability of the army India has quietly approved the purchase of 10 missile armed drones from Israel- a crucial acquisition that will enhance India’s cross border military strike capability and will act as a force multiplier.
The $400-million proposal for buying armed Heron TP drones from Israel was cleared last week.
These drones will be operated by the Indian Air Force, which has a fleet of reconnaissance drones. IAF also has a fleet of Harpy UAVs from Israel, which are self-destructing systems primarily tasked with taking out enemy radar positions.
Heron drones can carry a payload of over 1,000 kg and will be equipped with air-to-ground missiles that detect, track and take down targets deep in enemy territory.
India already operates a fleet of unarmed Heron and Searcher UAVs for surveillance and intelligence gathering.
The addition of armed UAVs will be a big capability enhancer for India and give it the option of taking out large terrorist camps or individual targets in hostile territory with minimal risk. Former Air Chief PV Naik said the acquisition of armed drones would be a significant addition to India’s air power. “It is very good if something like this is happening. Instead of sending a pilot in a high-risk area, it is best to use an armed drone. The system can also be used for a surprise, sneak attack,” he said.
While India is pursuing an indigenous drone programme – Rustom 2 – being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the project is several years away from weaponised induction. Armed flight trials are yet to be carried out.
A senior team from Israel Aerospace Industries is in New Delhi currently. Israelis are exploring joint production of drones with India.