Army responds to PLA, moves deadlier drones along LAC

Heron UAV
Heron UAV

India’s most potent Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) the Israel-made Herons are, as you read, being re-deployed from bases on our western borders to those in the east, along the 4057 km long Line of Actual Control (LAC). The relentless aggression of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) seems to have finally forced the army’s hand. Army, as a part of its larger plan, wants to replace all its Searcher MK II UAVs, which it presently fields along the LAC with the Herons so as to bolster surveillance and monitoring capabilities.

Though unrelated, this development comes just a day after the furore over the contents of the report filed by the chairperson of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) Shyam Saran, indicating a loss of almost 640 sq km of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh to China.

It has been learnt that this proposal, which came directly from the ground formations deployed along the LAC, has been agreed upon by the army top brass. A formal communication to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be soon made towards seeking the budget for the same and processing it further.

All weather capable Can operate above commercial airline traffic
  Ceiling  45000ft  23000ft
 Endurance 36 hours 18 hours
 Range  Beyond Line of Sight (USING Satellite Communication)
 Mission payload  1000 kg  120 kg
 Length  14m
 Wingspan  26m

“The issue with Searchers is that in terms of endurance and height ceiling, it is just not doing it for us. The demand for Herons has come primarily out of that reason,” said a senior officer who had recently commanded a division. In fact the situation has reached alarming proportions. It was learnt that last year, army’s Eastern Command had sent an urgent missive to its Southern Command asking for its Herons to be loaned. The Southern Command which was not utilising them all was asked to part with them following an intervention from the army headquarters.

When reached, Lt. Gen (Retd) JS Bajwa, who recently retired as the Director General Infantry, “Yes, it is true that we are moving these assets eastwards. Herons are the most advanced UAVs that we have. Flying them from the plains along the Brahmaputra, a UAV like Searcher gets its operations and communications hindered by height but that is not the case with Herons.” China expert and former Research and Analysis Wing (R & AW) officer Jayadev Ranade welcomed this development, It is time our army makes the right choice for investment. Even today, to reach a location along LAC we take anywhere from two to ten days. A reliable UAV like Heron will be of great help.”


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