UAVs for land and maritime forces
[ By Lt General Naresh Chand (Retd)
India’s land borders are extensive thus air surveillance is the ideal medium of surveillance and gathering intelligence. Accordingly India started its development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) besides importing UAVs. Israel and the US are the leading countries in the development of UAVs. India selected Heron and Searcher UAVs from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). These have been also imported for the Indian Navy as well as for the Indian Air Force (IAF). Heron is a medium altitude long endurance (MALE – about 30,000 feet) and thus is being used in the mountainous region. Searcher has a ceiling of about 15,000 feet and is being employed in the plains (Searcher Mk1) and Searcher Mk2 is being used in the desert terrain.
] IAI and Elbit manufacture a very large variety of strategic and tactical UAVs, some of which are: Israel Aerospace Industries Super Heron: This is the latest MALE UAS made by IAI/Malat. The Super Heron was added as a link between the Heron and the Heron TP UAV systems. It has a new advance propulsion system specifi- cally developed for the Super Heron, provision for large and heavy payloads, place for a large SATCOM antenna, advanced avionics, endurance (up to 45 hours), line of sight mission radius of 250 km, mission radius with airborne data relay or ground-based data relay of 350 km and with SATCOM it is up to 1,000 km.
Heron TP: Heron TP is an advanced, multi-purpose MALE UAS with an extended performance envelope and a variety of payloads capability with an endurance of 36 hours and altitude of 45,000 ft.
Searcher MkIII. Searcher MkIII is a multi-mission tactical UAS used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and damage assessment. It has an endurance of 18 hours, range of 350 km and altitude of 23,000 ft.
Other UAVs: Panther is a uniquely designed fixed-wing AVTOL UAV System with tilt-rotor capability that provides a remarkable solution to a wide variety of tasks when pinpoint automatic takeoff and landing is a requirement. The BirdEye 650D is an advanced, affordable, long endurance mini UAS and an enhanced version of the BirdEye 650. It provides real-time stabilised day/night imagery data for urban operation and over-the-hill intelligence. Elbit Hermes 900: Hermes 900 is based on Hermes 450 UAS. It is a multirole, MALE which features over-the-horizon, persistent multi-mis-