The Indian armed forces' wide-ranging pursuit of many of the world's most sophisticated combat aircraft has expanded to the global market for stealthy, unmanned combat air vehicles.
The Indian air force has submitted a request for information to international suppliers for a unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) with low radar cross-section, high service ceiling and an expected range of 500nm (925km). It also wants the aircraft to carry precision-guided weapons in an internal weapons bay.
A technical evaluation committee will select aircraft submitted by bidders to enter field evaluation trials funded at the manufacturer's expense.
The unexpected tender is likely to draw bids from across India's various weapon systems suppliers, which include the arms industries of France, Israel, Italy, Russia, the UK and the USA.
Several UCAV demonstrators are in development around the world. Current options include the Boeing Phantom Ray, Dassault-led Neuron, EADS Barracuda, General Atomics Predator C/Avenger, Northrop Grumman X-47B and the RSK MiG Skat.
Israel has previously supplied unmanned air systems to India, but so far has not revealed any designs for a stealth UCAV with an internal weapons bay.