The Indian military has procured six Israeli unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to augment its surveillance along its disputed border with China.
The Indian Army and the Indian Navy are expected to induct two Hermes 900s each by early next year, while the Indian Air Force is expected to receive two Heron MK2s during the same period, The HIndu revealed, citing sources.
Four MK2s have already been operational in the Indian Army since last year.
The Hermes 900 unarmed medium-altitude long-endurance system has a payload of 450 kilograms (992 pounds), including surveillance, and intelligence gathering.
Its in-built imaging sensors continuously scan and capture images and video in real time over a large area.
The all weather aircraft can land and take off in low visibility and has an endurance of 36 hours and service ceiling of 30,000 feet (9,144 meters).
Deployed with the Israeli military since 2012, the armed version of the Elbit Systems aircraft was extensively used in the anti-Hamas operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Along with surveillance and reconnaissance, the army is also considering deploying it with combat helicopters as a “game changer in the third dimension” The HIndu reported.
The aircraft’s airframes are manufactured by the Adani-Elbit joint venture in India, precluding any impact of the current West Asia conflict on the delivery schedule.
“We have already got the Heron Mk 2s which are SATCOM (satellite communication) enabled. The Hermes ‘Starliner’ is also SATCOM-enabled,” The Week quoted a source as saying.
“In addition, the Heron Mk 1s that we already have been using for some time now will also be upgraded to the SATCOM versions.”