The Army is set to receive four new Heron drones from Israel earlier this year. Purchased under emergency powers to deploy along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in 2020.
According to defense sources, the Heron drones were received by India in March and later sent to eastern Ladakh to strengthen surveillance and reconnaissance missions amid military tensions with China. Two other new drones will be deployed in the northeast along the LAC, sources said.
It was first reported in September last year that India had signed a deal to buy four Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drones.
Defense Ministry sources said that eventually all MALE drones with the three services will be upgraded with advanced satellites and sensors for longer surveillance and reconnaissance missions and will be linked for precision strikes under air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided munitions. A new project called Project Cheetah.
Armed drones India plans to buy 30 MQ-9B High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) armed drones from the US, at a cost of 10 to the defense services, for a total of $3 billion, but there has been no real progress on this.
Advanced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become the focus of all three services, Army and Navy, over the past two years.
UAVs The Navy is in the process of procuring 40 naval vessels for which it issued a request for information earlier this year. In 2020, it collected 10 naval UAVs via the fast track route.
Earlier this month, Air Chief Marshal VR Chowdhury told the media that the Indian Air Force would procure a number of UAVs, counter-UAVs and add “weaponization” to its existing fleet of UAVs.
The Army is procuring a substantial number of UAVs with various ranges for surveillance purposes, including combat roles and munitions for anti-drone systems.
Last year, the Army signed a deal to buy more than 100 explosive-carrying drones ‘Sky Striker’ from Israel’s Elbit Systems and India’s Bangalore-based firm Alpha Design.
A number of Switch UAVs, procured from Mumbai-based private firm IdeaForge, are deployed along the LAC in the Northeast for the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) role.