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India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has set its sights on the private sector to salvage its High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) UAV program following the delays and ultimate crash of the Tapas program led by DRDO’s ADE.

The MoD proposes a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) model, encouraging private companies to collaborate with DRDO labs like ADE in developing military platforms and equipment. This shift comes amid concerns about ADE’s ability to deliver after the Tapas program failed to meet many altitude and endurance requirements.

While ADE has showcased a basic design for the upcoming HALE UAV, the MoD is actively seeking input from the Indian Armed Forces to finalize the aircraft’s specifications. This collaborative approach aims to avoid past pitfalls and leverage private sector expertise and efficiency.

Two Indian private companies have already thrown their hats in the ring, proposing to design and develop HALE UAVs either through collaboration with international OEMs or using their intellectual property. Notably, India’s state-owned HAL has partnered with a private defence startup to offer a jet-powered HALE UAV with combat capabilities.

Overall, India’s shift towards private sector involvement in the HALE UAV program reflects a pragmatic approach to addressing past shortcomings and accelerating its military modernization efforts. However, the success of this strategy hinges on effectively leveraging private sector capabilities while ensuring transparency, accountability, and adherence to national security interests.

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