Table of Contents
CONTEXT: India is currently pursuing multiple Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones programme in an attempt to arm its three services with weapons that would play a critical role in future wars.
- Among the several drone programmes that the Indian military is pursuing, one of them is Project Cheetah.
- Project Cheetah, which is divided into two separate programmes, aims to upgrade and arm India’s Heron drones, with the assistance of Israel, the manufacturer.
- Another programme that India is pursuing is the procurement of 30 MQ-9 Reaper or Predator B drones, which will be a tri-service initiative.
- Developed by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the Heron, also known as Machatz-1, is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV.
- In all, there are about 90 Herons in service with the country
- One big lacuna in the Herons in use with India is that they are not equipped for satellite navigation, which helps in better range and wider coverage.
- Following tensions at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China since May last year, the Army ordered on lease four latest generation of Herons, known as the Heron II
- Developed by IAI, the Searcher was first deployed in 1992, but it was the Searcher Mk II, introduced in 1998, that India procured after 2000.
- Alongside the Heron UAVs, the Indian Navy also uses Searcher Mk II. However, currently, the biggest user of the Searcher is the Army.
- Developed by the American firm General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), the MQ-9B Sea Guardian is a variant of the MQ-9 Predator B, which is described by the United States Air Force as a “remotely piloted aircraft” instead of the widely-used UAV.
- Unlike the Heron, the Sea Guardian comes under the High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs.
- Developed by Navi Mumbai-based firm idea Forge Technology, the SWITCH UAV is termed as a “first of its kind” Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft and fixed wing hybrid UAV.
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