India is continuing to evaluate options for international industrial partners on its indigenous medium-altitude long-endurance UAV development programme.
Indian defence minister A K Antony told the Indian parliament 3 May that initial talks have been held with Israeli and European firms on co-operation options for the tri-service requirement, but the primary focus will remain on development solution.
India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is heading the development programme.
A statement released on 3 May by the Indian defence ministry says that “DRDO is planning to undertake development of MALE UAV along with Indian partner only. However, if required, limited consultancy or joint development on certain key technologies regarding UAVs, may be undertaken with foreign companies.”
It says that “European and Israeli companies have approached DRDO for undertaking joint development programme on UAVs. Preliminary presentations have been made by European and Israeli companies to bring out and demonstrate their capabilities on UAVs.”
India already fields an unknown number of IAI Heron MALE UAVs as part of a deal with Israel that also included IAI Searcher II tactical systems.
DRDO is the prime contractor for the Indian army’s Nishant tactical UAV programme, with 12 air vehicles being produced under a limited series production order placed in late 2005.