India turns to Israel for armed Drones

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New Delhi: India has accelerated plans to buy drones from Israel that can be armed and can allow the military to carry out strikes overseas with less risk to personnel, defence sources reported. India has been trying to develop its own combat drone to develop the attacking power.

The news comes weeks after Pakistan using a homemade drone in combat when it attacked militants on its soil, raising the prospect of a new front in the nuclear-armed neighbors’ standoff over Kashmir that has twice spilled into war.The plan to acquire Israeli Herons was first conceived three years ago, but in January the military wrote to the government asking for speedy delivery, the sources said, as Pakistan and China develop their own drone warfare capabilities.

India has already deployed Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) along the rugged mountains of Kashmir for surveillance, as well as on the disputed border with China, where the two armies have faced off against each other.Earlier this month, the government approved the Air Force’s request to acquire 10 Heron TP drones at an estimated Rs. 2,620 core from the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI); these drones can be fitted with weapons to engage targets on the ground, an air force official reported.

Gurmeet Kanwal, a former head of the government-funded Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said the armed Herons due to enter Indian service by late 2016 will give the Air Force deep-strike capability. Indian drones, in contrast, face being shot down if they show up on Pakistani radars, the army officer and Kanwal said.

“Pakistan might worry that India could use an armed drone to attack terrorist safe havens in Pakistan or to target a specific terrorist there…India might worry that Pakistan will now be tempted to add drones to its repertoire of asymmetric warfare tactics it has used against India,” he said. Only the United States, Israel and Britain are known to have used armed drones in combat, although more than 70 countries have UAVs with surveillance capabilities.

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