September 24, 2022

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

HERON, SEARCHER, SEA GUARDIAN, SWITCH — THE MANY UAVS THAT MAKE UP INDIA’S DRONE ARSENAL

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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.

Analysis:

  • 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.

HERON:

  • 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

HERON II:

  • 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

SEARCHER:

  • 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.

SEA GUARDIAN:

  • 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.

SWITCH UAV:

  • 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.

Reference: The Print

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