Image Source : X Tapas surveillance drone

New Delhi: In a major boost for enhancing India’s defence surveillance capabilities via indigenous weapons, the Indian Air Force has made a proposal to the Centre to buy 10 made-in-India Tapas drones, according to officials. Out of the ten drones, six made-in-India drones would be used for the Indian Air Force, while the remaining four would be used by the Indian Navy.

The Indian Air Force will be the lead agency for the induction and acquisition of the Tapas drones into the defence forces, defence officials told news agency ANI. These two defence forces are only focusing on acquisition of drones and the IAF proposal is expected to be soon taken up for discussion by the Defence Ministry.

What are Tapas drones?

Tapas drones are medium-altitude long, endurance-category drones that have been developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and have to be manufactured by a consortium of Bharat Electronics Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Although the drones have not been able to meet the requirements of the defence forces, their limited induction is expected to help in their upgradation in the near future to meet larger requirements, said officials.

The IAF has a fleet of Israeli-origin Searcher, Heron Mark-1 and Mark-2 drones and is looking to induct the American Predator MQ-9B drones in the future as part of a tri-services acquisition. The six indigenous Tapas drones would help it improve unmanned surveillance on both the northern and western fronts, they said.

Capabilities of Tapas drones

The Indian Navy intends to use the Tapas for surveillance activities over the maritime zone. In recent times, the Indian Air Force has emerged as one of the staunchest supporters of Make in India in Defence, with orders for 180 LCA Mark 1A and 156 LCH attack choppers worth around Rs 1.6 lakh crore getting placed or are about to be placed by it.

The Tapas drones have been tested by the Indian defence forces and during the trials, they managed to reach 28,000 feet altitude and could fly for over 18 hours. The deliveries would be made faster by the consortium as the first bird would be ready for delivery within 24 months of signing the contract, as per the officials.

Meanwhile, the DRDO is continuing with the Tapas project to further develop the system. The Tapas drones being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment Laboratory have not been able to fully meet the Joint Services Qualitative Requirements of flying at 30,000 feet for over 24 hours at a stretch and have been excluded from the category of mission mode projects.

(with ANI inputs)

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