The Indian Army has leased four Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) from Israel as part of its emergency procurement program.
The four Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Heron TP medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) wil be deployed near India’s disputed border with China, along the Line of Actual Control (LoAC) in the Himalayas.
The lease for the unarmed UAVs was signed around mid-January under the ‘emergency powers’ granted by India’s federal government to the military chiefs in June 2020 as part of efforts to speed up the acquisition of materiel needed to overcome equipment shortfalls amid the ongoing military tensions with China.
The IA and India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) declined to comment on the lease for security reasons but the New Delhi-based Security Risks Asia defence management consultancy claimed the contract is worth an estimated USD200 million.
Industry sources said that the lease period is three years, with the proviso of extending it by another two years.
The lease of military equipment by India was formally permitted under provisions incorporated in the Defence Acquisition Procedure 2020 (DAP 2020), which was released in September of that year.
Thereafter, the Indian Navy (IN) leased two non-weaponized General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9B SeaGuardian MALE UAVs from the United States to monitor the Indian Ocean Region from naval air station INS Rajali in south-eastern India.