INDIA PLANS BIG TICKET UAV PURCHASE
By Bulbul Singh
16 Feb 09. Indian defence forces plan big ticket purchases of a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs] under a plan to strengthen the C4ISR network. The UAVs will be procured, license produced and developed in India as part of this plan. Currently India uses Israeli-made Searcher I, Searcher-II, Heron UAVs.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief, Air Chief Marshal Fali Major announced at the February 11-15 Bangalore Aero Show 2009 that the IAF will procure more UAVs.
The IAF order is in addition to the orders for a variety of UAVs planned by the Indian Army in the near future. Sources in the Indian defence ministry said that special budgetary provisions have been marked to procure over 200 different varieties of UAVs for both the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army. It is estimated that India will spend around $2 billion over the next five to seven years on
procuring and developing a variety of UAVs including micro and nano-UAVs for short range intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and laser designation capabilities. The Indian Army also plans to acquire weaponised UAVs, armed with precision missiles which will be deployed in Jammu and Kashmir where Indian defence forces are fighting Muslim
terrorists operating from inside Pakistan. These UAVs will also be used in the North East and along the Chinese border for surveillance.
Since 2000 the Indian Air Force is currently using over 120 Israeli UAVs for intelligence gathering payloads of EO, Infrared,
Electronic Warfare, and SAR radars
“The Indian Air Force wants to further increase the roles of UAVs,” said an official,”To include UAV-assisted fighter/helicopter strike as well as laser designation of targets. In addition, the UAVs will be used for Battle Damage Assessment and for providing real-time inputs during special strike missions, which could include hits on terrorist camps deep behind enemy lines.”
The IAF is also purchasing combat UAVs to enhance its capability for specialstrike missions behind enemy lines. “This special role was highlighted by military planners in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when it was contemplated striking terrorist camps operating inside Pakistan,” said sources in the Indian defence ministry. “UAVs will play an important role in long endurance
surveillance missions by the Indian defence forces,” added the
In addition to the procurement from overseas, Indian scientists
are also developing homegrown UAVs with different payloads and missions; existing UAVs are also being upgraded. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is to upgrade the Heron UAV to Heron TP which will be a weapon-carrying UAV .
Meanwhile, India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] is to establish the first dedicated facility for testing UAV technologies in the southern state of Karnataka. This facility will test micro, long range and rotary UAV designs. DRDO is currently developing a homegrown Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV (MALE) in
addition to the homegrown Nishant and Lakshaya UAVs which have
entered the production stage.
India is also procuring unspecified numbers of micro UAVs. Bids have been requested from Elbit for the Skylark micro UAV; IAI MALAT for the Bird Eye; Singapore Aerospace for the FAINTAIL; EADS for the Tracker; Aero Vironment for the Raven micro UAVs.
The Indian Army is also on a global hunt for buying unspecified numbers of High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs which will be used to provide long-range surveillance with long endurance and loiter time over targets.
The requirements of the HALE UAV include an ability to operate at a height of up to 35,000 feet with 24 hour endurance. The range of the will be up to 350 kilometers and up to 1000 kilometers with SATCOM. The UAV will have a speed of around 225 kilometers per hour and
be able to operate in extreme cold and