The News Fusion website reports that India signed two contracts worth $1.4bn with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the purchase of two additional Phalcon/IL-76 Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) valued at $1 billion, and 10 Heron TP unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) during the recent visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to India.
The contracts were signed in New Delhi on November 16, in the presence of Brig. Gen. (ret.) Michel Ben-Baruch, Director of IMOD's SIBAT Division, and Indian Defense Secretary G. Mohan Kumar.
An official of the Indian Air Force said the purchase of two AWACS has been pending for the past five years, and the deliveries should be made within the next two to three years. “Phalcon AWACS are tremendous force multipliers, and we are having an excellent experience with them,” the official added.
A $400m contract for the purchase of 10 weaponized Heron TP UAVs was also signed with IAI. Deliveries to the IAF are expected to be completed over the next three years.
According to the official, the Indian Heron TPs will have very sophisticated communication & intelligence systems, detection finders, signal parameters, emitter classification, and geo-location capabilities, in addition to electronic surveillance measures for long-range automatic detection and identification of emitting targets.
The official added that Indian Heron TPs would be capable of launching guided munitions and lightweight tactical missiles. Currently, the three Indian Defense Forces operate around 60 Heron UAVs, but it is not known whether they are weaponized or not. The three Indian Defense Forces have a joint requirement of over 200 weaponized UAVs in the next ten years.
IAI has also given a proposal to India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to co-develop an advanced version of Heron UAV in India. However, the ruling National Democratic Alliance government wants all future UAV requirements to be met through the Make in India initiative. Israeli Searcher Mark I & II, Heron and Harop UAVs are currently used by Indian defense forces.