The Indian government has approved
the purchase of ten armed UAVs from Israel Aerospace Industries, following a fast-tracking of the program by the Modi administration. The $400 million acquisition will see ten IAI Heron TP
drones join other Israeli designs operated by the Indian Air Force, with Harpy loitering munitions, Searcher ISR aircraft and unarmed Heron-1 aircraft already seeing service
. The country is also pursuing an indigenous UAV development program known as the Rustom 2. India has been the world's largest importer
of drones over the last thirty years, with IAI officials reportedly in talks with the Indian Defence Ministry over a possible joint production of the new UAVs. India is also planning
to allocate significant funds to train increasing numbers of operators to use its expanding UAV fleet.
In November 2005, media reports claimed that India was set to purchase some 50 Heron MALE (Medium Altitude, Long Endurance) UAVs from Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) in a deal worth $220 million. They would be put to use carrying out reconnaissance missions on India’s mountainous borders with China and Pakistan, and along India’s long coastal waters. India was said to have been close to sealing the deal in 2004, but it was postponed due to the change in governments in New Delhi.
The Heron’s performance during the December 2004 tsunami apparently clinched the deal. Its performance since, and Chinese aggression on the Indian border, has green-lighted a follow-on contract.
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