February 12, 2005

Indian Army is buying 12 Nishant (UAV) from DRDO for for reconnaissance and surveillance operations

Army to buy 12 unmanned planes for surveillance

The Indian Army is buying 12 Nishant unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for reconnaissance and surveillance operations, while the Indian Air Force has also expressed interest in acquiring the indigenously developed UAV, a top DRDO official said today.

"Nishant has met all the requirements of the Armed forces, currently there is an immediate order for 12 units from the Army," DRDO Controller R&D Dipankar Banerjee told reporters here at the Aero India 2005 air show.

He said there was a "possible order" for the Nishant UAV's from the Indian Air Force, but this would depend on the the Army's satisfaction.

Nishant , designed and developed by DRDO's Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment, has an endurance of over four hours with a 45 kg payload carrying capability and has an integrated sensor package that includes a 35mm mini pan camera.

Banerjee said the ADE has taken up several long-range UAV programmes which include several variants of Nishant.

"We are exploring tie-ups with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and other companies," he said, when asked about DRDO's manufacturing plans for the UAV's.

"We have to discuss this with the Israel government (the media reports) and we are hopeful in getting the order," Banerjee said, when asked about reports on Israel dumping indigenous pilotless target aircraft (PTA) Lakshya in favour of American system.

"We made an offer to Israel and we conducted a demonstration with them. They did not want to buy Lakshya , but what they wanted is lease operations. We have not heard back from them," he said.

Stating that India did not have any current programme to develop Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), Banerjee said "it is still one generation ahead. Like any other country we are also obviously thinking of UCAV's, but there is no programme."

He said the country had gained knowledge on building UAV's for surveillance and reconnaissance but "weapons delivery is still an advanced technology."

Banerjee said India possessed the baseline technology with the development of the LCA's fly-by-control system, but shot back saying "I wouldn't even speculate," when asked how close is India to start an UCAV programme.

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