NEW DELHI: The government of India has quietly approved the purchase of 10 missile-armed drones from Israel — a crucial acquisition that will enhance India’s cross-border military strike capability, TheNewsTribe.com learnt from Indian media.
The move came nearly a week after Pakistan-made drone ‘Burraq’ successfully carried out it first strike in North Waziristan area of Pakistan killing three suspected terrorists.
The $400-million proposal for buying armed Heron TP drones from Israel was cleared last week.
These drones will be operated by the Indian Air Force, which has a fleet of reconnaissance drones. IAF also has a fleet of Harpy UAVs from Israel, which are self-destructing systems primarily tasked with taking out enemy radar positions.
The Times of India quoted senior defence ministry officials saying as “The armed forces had proposed buying the same armed drones in 2012. But that proposal did not get political backing in UPA-2.”
Officials ET spoke with said the project was revived and fasttracked by the Modi government earlier this year.
Israel’s armed Heron drones are similar to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are capable of reconnaissance, combat and support roles.
Heron drones can carry a payload of over 1,000 kg and will be equipped with air-to-ground missiles that detect, track and take down targets deep in enemy territory.
India already operates a fleet of unarmed Heron and Searcher UAVs for surveillance and intelligence gathering.