Warplanes: India Again Buys Israeli To Keep An Eye On China And Pakistan


December 6, 2014: For over a year now the Indian Army, rather the Northern Command that guards the Chinese and Pakistani border, has been seeking to buy 49 small UAVs. The army already operates dozens of larger Israeli UAVs, the smallest of which is the half ton Searcher UAV. What Northern Command wanted was something portable that could be moved around on the border and quickly launched and put to work by the troops, especially those on foot patrol in this chilly mountain wilderness.

Finally in October it was announced that India has decided on where to buy (Israel) but not which model. The most likely candidate, given that Northern Command specified a UAV weighing under 10 kg (22 pounds) would be the Skylark. This UAV has been around since 2008, has an impressive combat record and a new version (Skylard 1LE) recently showed up. This is a 7.5 kg (16.5 pound) aircraft with a 1.1 kg (2.4 pound) payload. This is sufficient to carry Israeli designed vidcam, laser designator and communications gear that can work with the American Rover ground terminals (designed to let commanders on the ground see what UAVs are seeing). Max endurance is three hours, max altitude is 4,700 meters (15,000 feet). Max distance from the operator is 40 kilometers.

This model would do what Northern Command wanted with little risk of embarrassing failures. Thus Indian vendors (like mega firm Tata) and other suppliers (like the Israeli firm offering the 9 kg Skylite) would be less attractive candidates than Skylark.





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