The influential Jane's weekly has said India is planning to significantly upgrade its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capability over the next decade. The upgrade is aimed at enhancing situational awareness along its land and maritime borders. It said the UAV upgrade would involve all three wings of the Indian armed forces.
It quoted official sources as saying the army was planning to procure a large number of man-portable mini- and nano-UAVs with short-range intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and laser-designation capabilities, as well as the ability to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons inside enemy territory.
It said the army also intended to acquire weaponised UAVs similar to the General Atomics RQ-1 Predator, which operates Hellfire missiles.
India shares very large, and mostly disputed, borders with Pakistan and China.
According to Jane's, India currently operates around 70 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Searcher Mk-1, Mk-2 and Heron UAVs, as well as 30 Harpy ground attack drones designed to detect and destroy enemy radars.
Indian Air Force officials told Jane's that the UAV fleet would be an integral part of the fast developing network-centric warfare capability being acquired by all three wings of the armed forces.