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The Indian defense landscape is witnessing a paradigm shift in the development of High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). After the Tapas MALE UAV program’s closure, the Defense Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO) Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) that has proposed to develop a HALE Platform is also facing Challenges that might see MoD opening doors for private players to take the lead in this crucial domain.

Tata Advanced Systems (TAS), a subsidiary of Tata Aerospace & Defence, has proposed converting its existing TATA HA-ISR aircraft into a fully unmanned ISR platform. This aircraft boasts an impressive range of 1800 nautical miles, an endurance of 6-7 hours, and a maximum payload capacity of 1000 kg. It is designed to operate at an altitude of 41,000 feet, making it ideal for HALE operations.

Adani Defence, on the other hand, has proposed a clean-sheet design for its HALE platform. They plan to develop this platform in a joint venture with an Israeli company, leveraging their expertise and technology. This approach offers the potential for a more advanced and optimized HALE UAV compared to converting an existing manned aircraft.

Both Tata HA-ISR and Adani Defence’s HALE UAV platforms are currently at the conceptual stage and require government funding to move forward. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is currently evaluating both proposals and is expected to make a decision soon. ADE Proposed HALE Platform too is still at conceptual stage as ADE is holding discussions with the Stake holders in Military on their Requirements.

The involvement of private sector players in the HALE UAV program Could mark a significant shift in India’s approach to indigenous UAV development. This move has the potential to accelerate the development process, leverage private sector expertise and resources, and foster healthy competition in the domestic UAV market.

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