By Ajit K Dubey :
ENGAGED in a boundary dispute with China in eastern Ladakh, India is planning to enhance its surveillance capabilities and firepower by placing orders for Heron surveillance drones and Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel under the emergency financial powers granted by the Government. The Heron unmanned aerial vehicles are already in the Air Force, Navy, and the Army and are being used extensively at the moment by both Army surveillance and Target acquisition batteries and Air Force in the Ladakh sector. “There is a need for acquisition of Heron UAVs to add to the existing fleet of these drones for meeting the requirements of our Air Force fleet. We are planning to place orders for these UAVs,” Government sources told ANI here without specifying the numbers to be procured.
The Heron has been in service with the three defence wings for several years now and can fly continuously for more than two days at a stretch providing reconnaissance from an altitude of more than 10 kilometres. The forces are also working towards inducting an armed version of the UAV, as well as upgrading the existing fleet into combat UAVs under the ambitious ‘Project Cheetah’ spearheaded by the Indian Air Force. The Army is planning to place orders for more Spike anti-tank guided missiles which were received by it last year from Israel under the emergency financial powers granted to the services in the Post-Balakot air strikes scenario. Last time, the Army had gone in for 12 launchers and 200 Spike missiles.
“We are planning to acquire more of these anti-tank missiles for tackling any threat from the enemy armoured regiments,” the sources said. DRDO is working towards developing the indigenous Man-Portable Anti Tank Guided Missile which will meet the bulk requirement of over 50,000 of these missiles needed by the Infantry units. The defence forces have also initiated requirements for acquiring Spice-2000 bombs, assault rifles, ammunition and missiles, and some platforms for meeting the requirements in case the situation escalates further on the Line of Actual Control. China has done massive build up along the LAC with the deployment of 20,000 troops and its heavy weaponry and fighter aircraft since May 5 and India has also responded in equal measure to the Chinese force mobilisation.