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India’s state-owned aerospace giant, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), has proposed developing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) variants of its successful Dhruv and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) platforms. This initiative aims to provide the Indian Army and Air Force with dedicated unmanned platforms for reconnaissance and cargo missions, allowing the manned versions to focus on high-value tasks.

Equipping the armed forces with unmanned Dhruv and LUH variants would offer several advantages. By delegating reconnaissance and cargo missions to these UAVs, the manned helicopters can be reserved for critical operations demanding human intervention and decision-making, such as combat search and rescue or close-air support.

An interesting hint of HAL’s potential plans emerged in a 2022 promotional video showcasing a Combat Air Teaming System (CATS). The video featured a Rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (RUAV) that bore a striking resemblance to the Dhruv helicopter. This could be an indication of the design direction HAL is considering for the Dhruv UAV variant.

The introduction of unmanned Dhruv and LUH variants would provide the Indian armed forces with greater operational flexibility. These UAVs could perform missions in high-risk environments without endangering human lives. Additionally, their ability to handle cargo duties would free up manned helicopters for more demanding tasks, improving overall mission effectiveness.

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