Wednesday, September 30, 2015

India Seeks To Strengthen Unmanned Fleet with Heron UAVs

With its neighbors Pakistan and China developing indigenous UAVs, India has asked Israel to speed the delivery of 10 medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Heron TPs to the Indian Air Force, valued at $400 million at list price. The armed Herons will join the service’s existing fleet of UAVs and are expected to enter service by late 2016.

The IAF already has a large fleet of IAI Searcher and Heron I unmanned aircraft, Harpy UAVs designed to attack radar systems and the expendable Harop, a loitering weapon designed to attack surface targets. It is contemplating forming a “weapon systems cadre” that will include drones and weapons managed by pilots. “The difference will now be that [pilots] will be inducted and promoted as a squad unlike in the past,” the service said.

In March, Pakistan flight-tested the “indigenously developed” Burraq, a MALE unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), hitting moving targets with the Barq laser-guided missile, which is analogous to the Chinese AR-1. The Burraq gained attention in September when Pakistan’s army claimed  to have used it to kill militants in that country’s uneasy tribal regions.
29/09/15 Neelam Mathews/AINonline
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