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By Bulbul Singh

05 Oct 06. The Indian defense forces have junked the homegrown UAV Nishant on account of its poor performance, which is now being used only for aerial targets, said sources in the Indian Army. The Indian defense forces have around 150 Searcher-I. Searcher-II and Heron UAVS bought from Israel since 1999.

Nishant UAV is being produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Meanwhile HAL is now looking for international collaborators to co-produce variety of UAVs.

Sources in the Indian Army said the homegrown Nishant 12 of which were ordered into serial production last year by the state-owned Aeronautical Development Agency (ADE ), Bangalore, under state-owned defense research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)are not up to the mark.

According to the contract in early 2005, out of the 12 Nishant UAVs only four were to be delivered first for user trials and the remaining 8 will be ordered later. Further orders of Nishant are likely to be scrapped by the Indian Army due to the poor performance of the Nishant UAV.

The Nishant UAV was scheduled to be inducted in 1995 and the serial production ordered in 2005 was on watered-down parameters forced by Indian defence ministry, disclosed a senior defence ministry official.

Nishant is designed to be used for reconnaissance, target acquisition, target designation, damage assessment and electronic surveillance is designed to perform discrete aerial reconnaissance, including target acquisition.

The Nishant unmanned air vehicle has a range of 100 kilometers and the 360 kilograms vehicle is designed for electronic intelligence and electro-optic reconnaissance for the Indian Army. Flying at 40 to 60 meters per second, Nishant is capable of battlefield surveillance with data sent in real time.

Indian defence ministry official said, the Indian government has now ordered HAL to urgently look for global partners to co produce over 150 variety of UAVs. The HAL co- production plans mean that for the time being all the ongoing plans of homegrown UAVs programmes by the DRDO have been put on the back burner.

HAL has now proposed co-development, co-production and maintenance of fixed wing HALE/MALE (High/Medium Altitude Long Endurance), Short Range Tactile MINI/MICRO UAVs and UNVAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) in partnership with Original Equipment Manufacturers having capability in the field of design, development and manufacture of UAVSA, said the Indian defence ministry official.

The overseas companies which be sent letters inviting offers include Israel based IAI Malat, Elbit, Aeronautics; Germany based STN Atlas Electronik Gmbh, EMTI; France based CAC Systems; US based AAI Corporation, Freewing Aerial Robotics, USA;, ATE; Austria based Schiebel, Vectra; Switzerland based Swiss Aircraft and Systems Corporation; and Russia based Rosoboronoexport .

DRDO’s homegrown project to design and develop a variety of UAVs with the help of Israeli assistance has been put on the back burner. DRDO’s Bangalore based laboratory Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) had proposed in 2004 to develop three new generation unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The poor performance of the homegrown UAV, Nishant has led to an urgent hunt in the international market for partners to co-produce UAVs .

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