Procurement: India Loves Israeli UAVs


November 10, 2005: India, apparently pleased with the twelve Heron UAVs it bought from Israel over the last two years, has ordered fifty more (at a cost of $4.4 million each.) The Heron, with a wingspan 28 feet, has a max take off weight of 1.2 tons and carries a 440 pound payload. With a max endurance of up to 50 hours (depending on payload carried), the Heron can be equipped with day and night vidcams, or even a naval search radar. Cruising at about 100 kilometers an hour, and flying as high as 20,000 feet, the Heron is very similar in cost and performance to the United States Predator. The Indians originally wanted to buy fifty Herons, but it was decided to buy a smaller quantity first, to make sure the UAVs could operate effectively in the wide variety of environments India has to deal with. For example, four of the Herons were equipped with naval search radars, and used to patrol the tropical waters of south India (to keep an eye out for Tamil terrorists trying to smuggle weapons into Sri Lanka). But most of the Herons are intended for use in Kashmir, and along the Pakistani border in general. This often involves operating in frigid temperatures and at high altitudes and mountainous terrain. Apparently, the Heron was able to do the job in all of those climates. The U.S. Army uses a version of the Heron, called the Hunter.


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