The Centre is considering buying an indigenous long-range UAV, being developed by a private Indian firm in partnership with an Israeli defence manufacturer

In a key political development, the Centre is now mulling purchasing an indigenous long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) with launch capability being developed by a private Indian firm in partnership with an Israeli defence manufacturer. This comes after the Indian government recently put the American predator drone deal on hold to give a push to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the initiative as a part of a larger package of nation-building activities. A commission led by a Lieutenant General was ordered to evaluate the American predator drone deal, which has been placed on hold since it would cost approximately USD 4.5 billion (over Rs 35,000 crore) for 30 predator drones.

“With the deal not moving ahead and almost all import cases being put on hold, we are now considering an armed UAV developed by an Indian private defence firm along with an Israeli defence manufacturer,” ANI reported citing top government sources. According to them, the Indian company’s participation in the project complies with the “Make in India” standards established by the government in order for the products to be eligible for consideration by the armed forces.

Defence Ministry Halted Imports To Prioritise Domestically Produced Weapons

As per the initial plans, India was going to purchase 30 American Predator high-altitude, long-endurance drones with missile-capable strike capability, to be split among the three services evenly. According to government sources, these armed drones, which can be employed for both surveillance and standoff attacks against adversaries, are needed by the defence forces. Meanwhile, the Defence Ministry has halted nearly all of the defence transactions involving imports to give priority to domestically produced weaponry.

India Has 12 American Anti-Submarine Warfare & Surveillance Planes To Monitor IOR

It is pertinent to mention here that two predator drones that were leased by an American company to India are being used by the Indian Navy to monitor activity in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). For monitoring the region, India has 12 American P-8I anti-submarine warfare and surveillance planes and was in the process of acquiring six more similar aircraft. However, following the government’s directives about import programmes, the defence ministry acted on the initiative in collaboration with the Israeli defence manufacturer.

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