In a major boost to the strategic surveillance capabilities, the Indian Army will deploy four Israeli Heron TP drones along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector for long surveillance missions.
The Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will be handed over to the Indian Army in the next 2-3 months under the lease agreement signed with Israel for the deployment in the Eastern Ladakh and other sectors.
Understanding Heron TP Drones
The Heron TP drone comes with a double wingspan, which has been developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) for all-weather strategic missions. The armed Heron TP drones are an upgraded version of the original Heron UAVs and their anti-jamming capability is much better than their previous versions. Assam Rifles Sets Up COVID-19 Vaccination Centre in Manipur's Tamenglong.
With their long-range radars and sensors, anti-jamming capability and the ability to reach an altitude of 35,000-feet, the Heron drones will be able to gather all kinds of intelligence across the LAC without even flying close to it.
The Heron TP has a scale size of AN-32 aircraft due to its large wingspan. The drones can carry a maximum take-off weight of 5,670 kg, with a maximum payload weight of 2,700 kg. With an endurance of 30 hours, the drone has a range of over 1,000 kilometres. Further, it is equipped with automatic taxi-takeoff and landing (ATOL), satellite communication for range enhancement, and fully redundant avionics, among other highlights.
About the Agreement
The agreement with Israel was inked under the emergency financial powers granted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government to the Indian defence forces. Under the grant, the defence forces can buy equipment and systems worth Rs 500 crores to upgrade their warfighting capabilities.
This is for the first time, Indian Army has leased military equipment, after a clause that was introduced in the latest version of the Defence Acquisition Procedure. Earlier, the Indian Navy had leased two non-weaponised General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9B Sea Guardian MALE UAVs from the United States under acquisition policy.
The Indian Air Force and Indian Army use a mix of previous generation Searcher 2 and Heron drones. Meanwhile, the armed forces along with Israel are upgrading the 90 previous generation Herons drones in service, and also weaponise them. Nearly 75 of 90 Herons are operated by the Indian Air Force. Indian Army Begins Registration For SSC (Technical) Online at joinindianarmy.nic.in; Know Eligibility, Age Limit and More.
Presently, ‘Project Cheetah’ is underway to upgrade around 80-90 Heron UAVs in the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force with laser-guided bombs and air-to-ground anti-tank missiles. The Rs 3,500 crore project will provide advanced reconnaissance and satellite communication capabilities to the defence forces.