The long awaited death of India's indigenous Nishat UAV program has come to pass. The final of four UAVs in use by the Army has crashed
less than a week after the program was officially cancelled. The final nail
in the program's coffin occurred earlier this month after a third UAV crashed amid technical problems cited by the Indian Army. However, these claims have been refuted by the Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO), who claim army incompetence and poor handling by the army. While the blame game continues, we do know that we won't be seeing any more Nishats in the Indian sky.
India has not been left out of the global UAV push. The country operates Israeli Searcher tactical UAVs, and Heron Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs, placing an additional Heron order in 2005. It has also undertaken development programs for a smaller UAV, the “Nishant”. With its “Rustom” program, however, India hopes to offer a UAV in the Heron/ Predator/ Watchkeeper class of MALE UAVs.
It had also hoped to begin to change a culture and tradition of wholly state-owned development of military hardware, which has not always performed well, or served India’s needs. A recent award has selected a winner, and moved the project forward. It may also serve as a reminder that bureaucracies are very difficult to change.
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