New Delhi: Indian Army will likely enlarge the UAV component of its fighting arms with an initial spend of $175 million on the purchase of an unspecified number of High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAVs for long-range surveillance alongside manned aircraft and other unmanned aerial vehicles.
Reports appearing in the media would suggest that the Army has already begun the process of short listing foreign suppliers. In this regard it may be said that the Israeli''s would appear to be hot favourites as they are already the suppliers of systems, currently operational with the Army.
According to reports, the Army would also be seeking to spend another $175 million for the acquisition of micro UAVs for day and night reconnaissance and surveillance of mountains and built-up areas, along with narrow lanes in rural and urban areas.
In all the Army would appear to be set to add 200 additional UAVs to its existing fleet of about 150.
The requirements for the HALE UAV would include a service ceiling of up to 35,000 feet, for a period of 24 hours and a range cover of 350 kilometres through line-of-sight radio control, or 1,000 kilometers with commands bounced off a satellite, and operate in hot and cold temperatures.
According to Army officials the HALE UAV also must be able to:
· Carry out all weather day and night surveillance and reconnaissance of an area, axis or point.
· Direct, evaluate and provide corrections for artillery fire.
· Carry payloads of up to 350 kilograms, including a charge-coupled device, digital remote-sensing camera with a detection range of 18 kilometres, and a synthetic aperture radar sensor with a range of more than 30 kilometres.
· The UAV''s engine should be coiled to reduce thermal signatures, and the engine noise should not be audible when it flies above 1,500 meters.
· The UAV should be controlled and its performance monitored through C-band and satellite- capable Ku-band data links.
The Indian Army''s current UAV fleet includes Israel Aerospace Industries'' Searcher-I, Searcher-II and Heron UAVs.
The Army has also ordered the indigenously developed Lakshya.