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The Indian Navy has been assigned the pivotal role of overseeing the development of India’s upcoming High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) Class Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) proposed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) for the Indian Armed Forces.

While ADE is still finalizing the configuration of the Turboprop-powered HALE UAV in collaboration with the tri-service branches of the Indian military, it has been decided that the Navy will collaborate with ADE in establishing the fundamental parameters of the HALE UAV. Simultaneously, the Army and Air Force will recommend specific sensors and payloads based on their operational requirements.

This strategic decision recognizes the Indian Navy’s expertise and experience in unmanned aerial systems and their successful negotiation of the deal for 21 Predator drones from the United States General Atomic. The Navy is actively working towards securing a 20-30 per cent Transfer of Technology (ToT) in the deal, which encompasses several systems and subsystems that can be locally manufactured in India. This transfer of technology will play a crucial role in the development of the indigenous HALE UAV, as it will enable the country to leverage its capabilities and expertise in the production of critical components.

The proposed HALE UAV is anticipated to have an endurance of over 35 hours and a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of nearly 5 tons. These specifications allow the UAV to carry a wide array of sensors and payloads, making it a versatile asset for various missions. By involving all three branches of the Indian military in the development process, the aim is to ensure that the HALE UAV meets the unique requirements of each service, enhancing its overall operational capabilities.

The Indian Navy’s involvement in the HALE UAV project is expected to contribute significantly to the development of indigenous unmanned aerial systems. By leveraging their experience and lessons learned from the negotiation of the Predator drone deal, the Navy is well-positioned to collaborate with ADE and other stakeholders to establish the necessary design parameters and performance characteristics for the HALE UAV.

The HALE UAV project holds immense strategic importance for India, as it seeks to bolster its defence capabilities and reduce its reliance on foreign suppliers for critical technologies. The indigenous development of the HALE UAV will not only enhance India’s aerial surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities but also bolster its technological expertise and self-reliance in unmanned aerial systems.

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