Israel Aerospace Industries' Malat unmanned air vehicle division and Hindustan Aeronautics are working on the prototype of an unmanned helicopter for the Indian navy based on the locally made Chetak airframe, with a series of flight tests scheduled for the coming months.

The flight control system used for the programme was developed by IAI using a Bell 206 demonstrator, with the company working on a kit that it says will allow for the "plug and fly" conversion of any helicopter for unmanned operation.

IAI used a Gyrodyne QH-50 as the basis for its Hellstar hovering UAV in the late 1980s, but terminated development activities after its first prototype was damaged in a hard landing.

However, the company has revived its work on vertical take-off and landing UAVs following interest from potential users including the Israeli navy, which is interested in fielding an unmanned helicopter on its missile boats. Sources say the service is following the current development efforts.