The Indian air force is moving ahead with implementation of a plan to purchase the Israel Aerospace Industries Heron TP unmanned air vehicle, having joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June.
India is operating the Heron 1 and other smaller Israeli UAVs, but the purchase of a strategic system such as the Heron TP had until recently been put on hold.
Israel is not a member of the regime, which aims to restrict the proliferation of missile technology, but has agreed to export its strategic weapon systems only to member countries.
Last year, India’s Economic Times claimed the government had quietly approved the purchase of 10 armed Heron TP UAVs from Israel. New Delhi has also previously shown interest in the Israeli Arrow surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile system.
By joining the MTCR, India will be able to open negotiations to purchase the Heron TP. While the Arrow interceptor is funded partially by the USA, the Heron TP can be exported.
The Heron TP is currently heavily used for classified missions for all the Israeli defence forces branches, and has been selected by the German air force for its surveillance UAV requirement.
The UAV has a 40h endurance, maximum take-off weight of 5,300kg (11,685lb), and carries a typical mission payload of 1,000kg.