IAF to weaponise Israeli Heron drones under Make in India route
19 September, 2022 | Pranay Lad
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to induct new Israeli Heron drones awarded to India under the make-in-India route. The IAF named the project “Project Cheetah”. Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, made...
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to induct new Israeli Heron drones awarded to India under the make-in-India route. The IAF named the project “Project Cheetah”.
Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, made in Israel, is a medium-altitude UAV with a payload capacity of up to 250 kg, which can include a thermographic camera, visible light, radar systems, and other equipment for aerial ground observation. In the event of a communication breakdown, the Heron UAV is capable of returning to base on its own.
Under the ambitious Project Cheetah, the Indian Air Force seeks to update its existing fleet of Israeli-origin Heron unmanned aerial vehicles with stronger communication capabilities and missiles which can target enemy locations from long range. The project was supposed to be finished with Israeli weapons makers, as planned.
While addressing the press, government sources said, “Now, the IAF is planning to go ahead with the upgrade of its drones by involving Indian defense firms under Make in India in defense”.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is the key driving force behind the project which will also see the Israeli Navy and Army’s drones updated with strike capabilities and enhanced observation and reconnaissance pods.
For years, the three services have relied on Searcher II and Heron UAVs from the Israeli Air Force for surveillance and reconnaissance.
The forces on the ground would be able to gather precise intelligence regarding hideouts in regions where personnel must participate in operations with the improvement in surveillance capabilities.
The modifications would also make it possible for the ground stations to fly these planes from afar and control them via a satellite communication network.
The surveillance capabilities of the UAVs that are intended to be enhanced would be comparable to those that the Indian Army and IAF have already acquired thanks to the government’s emergency acquisition powers given to the services in response to the current military standoff.
The three services’ Heron drones—the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force—will be upgraded to carry laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground missiles, and air-launched anti-tank guided missiles. The final decision-making phase for this project has begun.