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The upcoming Indian-made Archer-NG MALE UAV has sparked curiosity and confusion among Indian readers, with speculations swirling around its resemblance to the Israeli Heron Mk2 already in service with the Indian Air Force. But has done the digging and is here to shed light on the key features that set these two drones apart.

First things first, the Archer-NG is a bigger bird. Its maximum take-off weight of 1800 kg eclipses the Heron Mk2’s 1350 kg, making it a more robust platform capable of carrying heavier payloads and venturing further. This translates to an 18.6-meter wingspan for the Archer-NG compared to the Heron Mk2’s 16.6 meters, giving it a larger wing area for improved lift and endurance.

While both drones boast four hard points, the Archer-NG packs a heavier punch. It can carry up to 300 kg of weapons, including the potent Nag Mk2 anti-tank guided missile, compared to the Heron Mk2’s 240 kg payload limit. This makes the Archer-NG a more potent strike platform, capable of delivering precision attacks on enemy targets.

The Archer-NG also muscles its way forward with a 180 HP engine, with an even more powerful 220 HP variant in the pipeline. This stands in stark contrast to the Heron Mk2’s 141 HP engine, giving the Archer-NG greater speed, manoeuvrability, and altitude performance.

While both drones share a similar fixed-wing design with mid-fuselage mounted wings and twin-tail configuration with a pusher propeller, this is where the similarities largely fade. The Archer-NG draws heavily on the expertise and technology gained from the Tapas program, resulting in a distinct and unique platform.

The key takeaway is that while the Archer-NG and Heron Mk2 share a superficial resemblance, they differ significantly in terms of size, payload capacity, firepower, and engine power. The Archer-NG is a larger, more powerful, and more heavily armed platform, marking a significant leap forward in India’s indigenous UAV capabilities.

The Archer-NG is not simply a copy of the Heron Mk2. It is a distinct and ambitious project that promises to strengthen India’s aerial surveillance and strike capabilities. While the resemblance may be present, the differences are undeniable, making the Archer-NG a truly indigenous drone ready to take flight on its terms.

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