Amid emerging terror threats and the flux in its volatile neighbourhood, India has decided to procure 10 missile-armed drones from Israel with the government approving the USD 400 million deal. The procurement of armed Heron TP drones from Israel was cleared a few days ago which makes it a crucial acquisition that will enhance India’s cross-border military strike capability. At a time when India is facing trouble in its immediate neighbourhood, the procurement of missile armed drones boosts the modernisation drive of the weaponry of the Indian Air Force.
In 2012, the armed forces had proposed buying the same drones, but it did not get any backing from the UPA government. The heron drones are similar to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are capable of reconnaissance, combat and support roles. India already has a fleet of unarmed Heron and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) which it operates for surveillance and intelligence gathering. The addition of the latest armed UAVs will be a capability enhancer which would help it in taking down terrorist camps or individual targets in hostile territory.
Israel is also exploring joint production of drones with India which would contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship programme of ‘Make in India’.
The India-Israel relations are set to climb into a higher trajectory under the Modi government in New Delhi, which has been more visible in its diplomatic thrusts to expand economic and strategic ties with Tel Aviv. President Pranab Mukherhee is expected to visit Israel in October. In a calibrated attempt by India to balance its ties with Israel and the Arab world, the president is also expected to combine his trip to Israel with visits to Jordan and Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Modi is likely to visit Israel early 2016, which will make him the first Indian prime minister to visit the Jewish nation.
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