India’s military is seeking to expand its use of drones for intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance. The state-funded Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel’s Elbit System to jointly develop rotary military drones. HAL claimed deploying a rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will bring down the huge cost associated with operating and maintaining manned helicopters.
The Indian aviation giant said on Wednesday: “It will also benefit the Indian Armed Forces in deploying a UAV for a routine surveillance mission or operating in unsafe areas both during day and night, which otherwise would have to be carried out by manned helicopters.”
Indian defence ministry official Apurva Chandra is in charge of the acquisition.
He said: “It may also open up new business avenues for HAL culminating in both domestic and export orders.”
Mr Apurva claimed the partnership will benefit the two firms in terms of technology, manufacturing, marketing and maintenance.
He also listed out unmanned vehicles, UAVs, border management and after-sales support as the new focus areas of cooperation between India and Israel.
HAL has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Dynamatic Technologies Limited (DTL) to jointly manufacture the drones.
The Indian firm will also market and sell the Heron Mark II to Indian customers.
Advanced Heron TPs belong to the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class with an endurance of over 36 hours.
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Given the flexibility displayed by Israel in joint collaborations in the past, Indian air-to-ground weapons could be integrated with the Heron TPs.
This would be the second range of Israeli UAVs to be made in India once finalised.
A joint plant produced the unarmed Hermes 900 class of drones for export orders.
India has been trying to expand the use of drones to keep up with regional rivals China and Pakistan.
Islamabad has allegedly accelerated its long-delayed purchase of up–to–date warfare systems and advanced radars.
It is reportedly seeking to deploy the technology along the border between India.
The decades-long conflict between the two neighbours nearly escalated into a new war last year when India carried out an air raid on an alleged terror camp in Pakistan in retaliation for a deadly attack on Indian military personnel earlier that month.
A recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) claimed China has become the largest exporter of unmanned combat aerial vehicles.
SIPRI believe China has sold 15 to 13 different countries since 2014.