Warplanes: UAVs Searching Jungles


September 1, 2006: India is expanding the use of its UAV's in counter-terrorism work. The aircraft will be used to find Maoist (radical communist rebels) camps in the jungle.
India began using Israeli Heron and Searcher II UAVs three years ago. With over fifty Heron, and smaller Searcher II, UAVs in service or on order, they have already been put to use in Kashmir (against Islamic terrorists) and for maritime patrol. The Indian Herons will be equipped with special cameras for detecting camps hidden in the jungle, and electronics for detecting the low power radios the Maoists are known to communicate with. But the major advantage of the Heron is "persistence." It can stay in the air for up to two days at a time. If Maoists are suspected to be operating in some remote area, you can have one or more Herons conduct a continuous, day and night, stake out.
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. 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. The U.S. Army uses a version of the Heron, called the Hunter. The Searcher II is a smaller (940 pound) UAV, with an endurance of 15 hours.


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