- Two unarmed MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones were leased to the Navy from the US in November 2020.
- India also intends to purchase from the US 30 multi-mission, armed Predator drones for the three services.
According to reports, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is developing multi-role, sophisticated, and long-endurance drones that are AI-driven for use in policing areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The reports surface as border threats from surrounding nations along the LAC have increased.
The action is being taken as India gets ready to increase its strategic alertness in high-altitude regions, notably along its borders with China. Despite multiple rounds of negotiations between India and China, the border tension has not been eased following the skirmish in the Galwan Valley between Indian and Chinese troops in May 2020.
According to officials familiar with the development, the rotary-wing drone will be able to carry a load of 40 kg, including missiles and sensors, and it is being developed in consideration of the need for the armed forces to maintain a vigilant watch over the mountainous areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
According to sources who spoke with news agency PTI, HAL has set a goal of completing the first test flight of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) by the middle of next year and intends to build 60 such platforms in the initial phase of the project.
They said that the long-endurance drone’s operating system will have AI capabilities, and the armed services will be able to use it for a variety of tasks, including delivering vital supplies.
One of the individuals mentioned above stated, “The drone is being built in such a way that it can carry a wide range of important military systems including sensors, missiles, and numerous other weaponry.”
Separately, HAL is considering the opportunity to work with its manufacturer on an ambitious project to produce the Israeli Heron TP drones.
The person stated, “This initiative is intended to address the requirement of our military forces as well as global supply.”
The Heron drones can fly up to 35,000 feet in the air for about 45 hours before needing to land.
For a greater range, the Heron TP drones have automated taxi-takeoff and landing (ATOL) and satellite communication (SATCOM) systems.
Additionally, the HAL is collaborating with the Defense Research and Development Organization on two other drone projects (DRDO).
In order to greatly increase their surveillance capability, the three services intend to buy a sizable number of unmanned aerial systems over the next few years. This will allow them to keep a close eye on Chinese actions in the LAC and Indian Ocean region in particular.
Plans have been developed by each of the three services for the acquisition of the cutting-edge platforms.
Following the standoff with China in eastern Ladakh and a drone attack on the Jammu airfield last year, the military services have been concentrating on acquiring unmanned vehicles, particularly armed drones.
The attack on the Jammu Air Force station in June of last year was the first time that suspected Pakistan-based terrorists had utilised drones to attack important military installations in India. The drones used were loaded with explosives.
At an estimated cost of more than USD 3 billion, India also intends to purchase from the US 30 multi-mission, armed Predator drones for the three services.
Two unarmed MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones were leased to the Navy from the US in November 2020.