The Indian forces are set to acquire 97 ‘Made-in-India’ drones for surveillance purposes along the China and Pakistan borders. The Indian Air Force will lead the acquisition process, which will cost over INR 10,000 crore. The drones will have the capability to fly for almost 30 hours continuously and will complement the existing fleet of 46 Heron UAVs.
According to government officials quoted by ANI, “a scientific study was carried out by the defense forces jointly and it has been decided that Indian forces would require 97 such drones for keeping an eye on both land and sea to meet the Medium Altitude Long Endurance requirements.”
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will upgrade the current drones already in service in collaboration with original equipment manufacturers through the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative. This decision comes after India recently made the decision to purchase 31 High Altitude Long Endurance Predator drones from the United States, which would be used to monitor a large area of Indian interest.
The acquisition of 97 drones will boost the strength of Indian forces amid the high tensions between its aggressive neighbors. The recent tensions between India and China have been escalating due to their ongoing border dispute along the Line of Actual Control. The clash between Chinese and Indian troops in December 2022 highlights the increasing militarization and lack of progress towards resolution.
The border clashes have become more frequent, and both sides have withdrawn forces from some contentious standoff sites, but still retain high numbers of troops forward deployed along the disputed border, with several flashpoints that could erupt into another border crisis at any time.