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Meet The Top UAVs Used By Indian Armed Forces

In the wake of the recent Pulwama attack, the military’s technological might have been the buzz word, with the media discussing India’s technological capabilities at great length.

With the launch of India’s eighth surveillance satellite scheduled for April 1 for DRDO, the message that the Indian government attempts to send is loud and clear- that they are not going to take surveillance and border security lightly.


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As a country which witnesses border-related tensions frequently, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) of different kinds, among other technologies have been in use in the force for quite a while. Though the majority of the UAVs that are currently in use are purchased from foreign nations, the defence is currently looking for indigenous solutions.

In this article, we take a look at some of the popular UAVs that are currently being used by the military and how they differ in terms of their features.

Quadcopter: The unnamed quadcopter was developed by a team of two soldiers from the Indian army in 2015 and was initially used for surveillance along the Line of Control (LoC). The device was later modified to add weapon system with the capability of picking and dropping of explosive items.

Speaking about the features of the vehicle to a leading daily, one of the soldiers said,  “The quadcopter can lift three grenades or two kg of payloads such as ammunition, IEDs and first aid. We manually control the UAV through a remote control. It can also be used automatically, wherein we feed the coordinates on the laptop and it navigates to the areas and drops the grenade after unpinning it. It also has day and night surveillance.”

IAI Harop:  India is already in possession of a number of Harop drone purchased from Israel and are currently planning to buy 15 more from the country.

The drone combines the capabilities of a UAV and a lethal missile and searches, finds, identifies, attacks and destroys targets, and perform battle damage assessment.

Other major features of the device include:

  • Extended loitering at long range
  • Autonomous platform operation
  • Man-in-the-loop attack, avoiding collateral damage
  • EO seeker: FLIR/color CCD, hemispherical coverage
  • Attack from any angle – from horizontal to vertical
  • Abort attack capability
  • Continuous, persistent threat to enemy targets

IAI Heron: Is yet another Israeli design developed by the Malat (UAV) division of Israel Aerospace Industries. The drone has the capability of automated take-off and landing in any flying climate and provides real-time surveillance information.

The drone can navigate using a GPS system, can be pre-programmed or has the option of manual override from a ground control station.

Last year, the government of India approved a $400 million deal to buy 10 Heron TP from Israel for the Indian Air Force

Rustom: The UAV is developed by the DRDO for the Indian Army, Navy and the Indian Airforce  in the 1980s and has undergone several changes over the years.

Its key features include:

  • Aerodynamic configurations, High aspect ratio wing, Composite airframe integrated with propulsion system, De-icing system for wings
  • Highly reliable systems with built-in redundancy for flight critical systems like flight control and navigation, data links, power management, – and mission critical payload management system
  • Digital Flight Control and Navigation System, Automatic Take off and Landing (ATOL)
  • Digital communication technologies for realizing data links to control and operate the mission and relay UAVs
  • Payloads with high resolution and precision stabilized platforms

IAI Searcher: An Israeli design, the drones are currently used in India, Israel, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Turkey. The drone is mainly used for scouting and surveillance of another airspace. The variants of the drone were called the Searcher 1 (1991) and Searcher 2 (1998).

The Indian Air Force is equipped with Searcher Mark II as well, which is a multi-mission tactical remotely piloted aerial system (RPAS) used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment and damage assessment.

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Akshaya Asokan
Akshaya Asokan works as a Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine. She has previously worked with IDG Media and The New Indian Express. When not writing, she can be seen either reading or staring at a flower.

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