Indian defence forces to arm 100 Heron drones with missiles for offensive operations
In a bid to boost their fire power in the middle of ongoing operations against China, the defence forces have proposed to equip around 100 Heron drones with missiles to tackle out enemy positions. “A proposal to equip around 100 Heron drones would be taken up by the defence ministry for approval as they want to strengthen their strike and reconnaissance capabilities using the unmanned systems,” Defence sources told India Today TV.
The proposal would see the drones getting equipped with laser guided bombs, long-range air to ground missiles and anti tank guided missiles, the sources said.The proposal has been pending for many years now and is being revived by the services in view of the developing hostile environment around the country.
In the ongoing situation, India is also going to place more orders for the Heron surveillance drones. India is planning to enhance its surveillance capabilities and firepower by placing orders for Heron surveillance drones and Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel under the emergency financial powers granted by the government.
The Heron unmanned aerial vehicles are already in the Air Force, Navy, and the Army and are being used extensively at the moment by both Army surveillance and Target acquisition batteries and Air Force in the Ladakh sector.
IAI Heron TP
The Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI’s) Heron TPs have an endurance of upwards of 30 hours, maximum take-off weight of 5,300kg and a potential weapons/mission payload of up to 1,000kg. They can be used for both surveillance as well as combat and support roles, and can carry air-to-ground missiles to take out hostile targets. The IAF currently operates a fleet of IAI-made Harpy self-destructing anti-radar drones and IAI searcher UAVs and indigenously built Nishant drones for surveillance and intelligence-gathering.
The drone is also ATOL (Automatic Taxi-Takeoff-Landing) compliant and exceeds NATO standards for drones. The Heron-TP is capable of flying autonomous mode and can be supervised by a single operator without the need for any external pilot.
Also called as the Eitan, the armed Heron-TP drones can help India in offensive strikes with less/no potential damage to defence personnel as they are also capable of detecting, tracking and firing at targets with air to ground missiles.
When looked at from the Indian point of view and growing concerns about terrorist launch pads and china, the Indian Air Force can deploy these drones, upon receiving information from ground troops about a particular offensive attacks by the enemy forces at a particular location.
These drones can then not just spot the enemy, but also fire at them, from 30,000 feet over the ground, then return to base, causing more damage than troops can, with no risk to the soldiers’ lives.
The drones can also be used if a terrorist hideout is located in the mountainous regions of Kashmir. Missiles can be fired at the hideout, which sometimes can be a cave or even a valley region which cannot be reached by the Army’s trucks, and troops could take a long time to march there. It is to be noted that India has not used air power in resolving the uprising issue of Kashmir, yet.
The Heron-TP is a medium sized drone, measuring 14 metres in length and has a wingspan of 26 metres. The single Pratt and Whitney PT-6A 1,200 bhp engine is capable of powering it to a top speed of 241 km/h.
The Heron-TP will be bought by India as part of a larger $400 million dollar deal.
The use of unmanned systems such as drones removes potential political costs and makes it easier for policymakers to opt for “clean and quick” use of military force rather than the slow and often difficult political and diplomatic options. In India’s case, the Indian military hopes that armed UAVs will give it the capability to conduct symbolic retaliatory attacks against Pakistan-based terrorists while limiting the violation of Pakistani sovereignty and hopefully avoiding any escalatory spiral.
Source:- India Today