Predator C v/s. Heron TP:- Which Armed Drone will be Real Game Changer For Indian Armed Forces
India’s pursuit of armed drones has led it to order 10 Heron TP drones from Israel and this will likely be the highlight of Indo-Israeli defence cooperation against the backdrop of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel. The armed drones were purchased in 2015 for a reported $400 million. These will be India’s first armed drones, significantly expanding the aerial offensive capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Lot has been written and said in Indian media on how the delivery of Armed Heron TP Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) from Israel will bring in a considerable jump in a long overdue capability for Indian air force but will Delivery Of Heron TP Real Game Changer for Indian Armed Forces
Let’s Compare Two Deadliest Armed UAV Drone’s
Predator C Avenger is powered by a turbofan engine and has stealth features such as internal weapons storage, and an S-shaped exhaust for a reduced infrared signature and radar signature.
Predator C Avenger’s unique design, reduced signature, and speed increases its survivability in higher threat environment. Avenger is a highly advanced, next-generation Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) was developed from the MQ-9 Reaper series (Predator B).
Avenger is designed to perform high-speed, wide-area surveillance time-sensitive strike missions over land or sea, flying up to 500 mph at a maximum of 50,000 feet for as long as 18 hours.Avenger can fly 1,800 mi (2,900 km) from its operating base and stay airborne for 18 hours.
Predator C Avenger is billed as a true unmanned combat air vehicle, more lethal than all of the previous Predator UAVs.
How will Avenger benefit India?
“Switching from propeller-driven drones to jet powered ones will allow Indian military planners faster reach over targets especially in convert military operations
Predator C will be particularly valuable for India as the pilotless aircraft can remain airborne for 35 hours at a stretch. The jet-powered Predator can carry a payload of up to 6,500 pounds and has a range of 1,800 miles, flying at up to 50,000 feet.
Predator C drone includes stealth features such as internal weapons storage and will support weapons used on the MQ-9 Predator, the deadliest drone in the world. The Hellfire anti-tank missiles fired from the Avenger can strike targets eight kilometers distant. The Predator C also has the ability to detect and track targets across the Line of Control (LoC) and attack them while flying well within Indian airspace. It can fly for up to 18 hours to reach targets 2,900 km away.
New Delhi already uses surveillance drones (from Israel) to monitor the mountains of Kashmir – a disputed region between Pakistan and India which has been the cause of two major wars.
But Pakistan is not the only concern for India. The new stealthy drones will help Indian Navy in surveillance in the Indian Ocean where Chinese navy is expanding ship and submarine patrols in the region.
The new stealth drones can not only create new tensions between Pakistan and India but also aggravate border standoffs with China.
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 in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the Indian Air Force can deploy these drones, upon receiving information from ground troops about a particular terrorist launch pad being active or of 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.
IF we compare both drone Factor where Israeli drone is Lack of Stealth on Heron TP which makes them more vulnerable to operate in cross-border raids because heavily guarded airspace will detect them even before it crosses Indian airspace. turboprop engine power drones like Heron TP are slow and are sustainable to strong winds which make them vulnerable to while in flight.
Flying at over 400 knots, Avenger is 2-3 percent faster than the turboprop-powered unmanned drones and are also much harder to spot due to use of specialized radar-absorbent materials, Stealthy design and Internal weapons bay which are all designed to reduce its radar signature.