UAVs in India
The Indian Army was the first service to acquire Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in form of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Searcher Mark I, followed by the Searcher Mark II and finally the Heron Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV. The Searcher Mark II is being successfully used in the mountains as also in the plains and semideserts. The Indian Air Force quickly built up a similar inventory, while the Indian Navy (IN) acquired the Searcher Mark II and Heron for long range maritime surveillance missions, operating them from Kochi and Porbandar.
Backbone of the fleet is the fourth generation GPS-enabled Heron / Machatz 1 MALE UAV, designed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries ( IAI) at its Malat division, in partnership with the Canadian company MacDonald, Dettwiler& Associates ( MDA). Heron entered operational service with the Indian Air Force in high-altitude land surveillance near mountainous borders, and in IN service for maritime patrol missions. Heron has proved to be capable of fully automated take-off and landing, even under adverse weather conditions. Flying at a height of 30,000ft, the UAV provides operators with real-time information on enemy battlefields/ activities by performing Information, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance ( ISTAR) activities over wide areas in support of national agencies, theatre commanders and lower echelons using multiple sensors and Satellite Communications (SATCOM) for extendedrange capture and transfer of critical data.