Progress has been made toward a defined programme to develop an unmanned version of the Chetak helicopter for the Indian navy.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) have been performing preliminary work on a prototype of an unmanned helicopter for the Indian navy, based on the locally-made Chetak.
This uses a flight control system developed by IAI using a Bell Helicopter 206.
The Malat unmanned air systems (UAS) division of IAI is working with HAL under a wider cooperation agreement, and a series of flight tests is scheduled to begin after a contract is signed.
The Israeli navy also has an interest in an unmanned helicopter for its missile boats. It currently uses manned helicopters, but their operations are complicated in rough sea conditions.
In the late 1980s, IAI used a Gyrodyne QH-50 as the basis for the Hellstar hovering UAS.
The programme was terminated after the first prototype was damaged in a hard landing.
The operational requirements of the Israeli and other navies have prompted the company to resume its work on a vertical take-off and landing UAS.
It is working on a dedicated unmanned rotorcraft, and also on a kit that will allow for the "plug and fly" conversion of any helicopter.