Government clears proposal for buying 15 Heron UAVs
The Indian Government has cleared the procurement of 15 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israel at a cost of around ` 1,200-crore. A proposal to procure these Heron UAVs was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a recent meeting.
The ` 1,200-crore proposal for procuring the UAVs will bolster the Israeli-origin Heron and Searcher fleet of the force which deploys them on both the eastern and western sectors. The force has a fleet of more than 40 such vehicles, which are expected to undergo upgrades in the near future.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) flies the Israeli-made Searcher II and Heron UAVs for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and about 100 Searchers are in operation on Indian borders in western, northern and eastern regions. After the upgrades, the air force would be capable of operating these aircraft from faroff distances and control them through satellite communication system.
The Indian Army also operates a sizeable number of UAVs and has deployed them in borders along the western and eastern fronts. The army was the first to induct UAVs in the 1990s starting with Searcher Mark I and Searcher Mark II which could operate at an altitude of 15,000 feet and finally the Heron, which can operate at 30,000 feet.
Army’s Northern Command had recently issued a global tender for procuring latest miniature unmanned aerial vehicles for gathering intelligence and carrying out reconnaissance of areas along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan and Sino-India border.
The Indian Navy has also three operational squadrons of the Israeli UAVs deployed along both the eastern and the western sea boards.