In the next few months, India will receive the Heron drones from Israel on three years lease. This Heron deal is one of many deals that India has concluded with Israel in the realm of military drones. Would this increasing Indo-Israel defence and security partnership for emerging technologies especially military drones enhance the offensive capabilities of India to decisively alter the course of the conflict in the region?
The recently acquired Heron drones are long-endurance drones with the capability of operating for 45 hours at a medium altitude of up to 35,000 feet. The total length of the drone is 8.5 meters with a wingspan of 16.6 meters and reportedly equipped with satellite communications (SATCOM), ultra-long-range surveillance cameras, automatic taxi-takeoff and landing (ATOL) system and “other state-of-the-art gadgets.” The Indian Ministry of Defense is also planning for the up-gradation of 80-90 Heron drones, which are already operated by the Army, Navy and Air Force of India. This also includes the 50 drones that were previously acquired from the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) in 2019 under a US$500 million deal. This up-gradation consists of equipping Heron drones with anti-tank guided missiles, long-range air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided bombs.