HomeIndian DefenceIndia-Israel Collaboration Supports Drone Manufacturing for Israeli Military Needs

India-Israel Collaboration Supports Drone Manufacturing for Israeli Military Needs

Source : Daijiworld

India-Israel Collaboration Supports Drone Manufacturing for Israeli Military Needs
First Indian-manufactured Israeli Elbit Hermes-900 UAV named as ‘Drishti-10 Starliner’ for the Indian Armed Forces, unveiled by Adani Defence which manufactured the UAV under technology transfer

By Girish Linganna

All three primary segments of the Indian Armed Forces are focusing on expanding their collection of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The joint venture company Adani-Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd, based in Hyderabad and formed by Adani Defence and Aerospace from India and Elbit Systems from Israel, became the inaugural firm to produce UAVs outside Israel.

The UAVs, featuring carbon composite aerostructures, were produced and delivered from the 50,000 square foot facility of Adani in Hyderabad.

The UAV production occurred under a technology transfer agreement, with Elbit Systems, holding a 49% stake in the joint venture, overseeing the process closely. It was also reported by Shephard that Elbit shipped Hermes 900 kits to India, including sensors and engines for assembly. This collaboration has enhanced Israel’s military capabilities amid its ongoing conflict in Gaza with Hamas.

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The Indian Navy and Indian Army have received both maritime and land variants of the Hermes 900 UAVs. The recent batch delivered to the Indian Navy has been rebranded as Drishti 10 Starliner, though it retains the Hermes 900’s specifications. Efforts are being made towards the localization of the UAVs, with Adani officials currently conducting training for the Indian Navy.

The Drishti 10 drones of the Indian Navy will be stationed in Porbandar, located on the Arabian Sea’s coast in Gujarat’s western region, and in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. In the last two months, there have been drone attacks on at least 35 ships in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.

At the beginning of January 2024, Admiral R Hari Kumar, the head of the Indian Navy, observed, “Around the world, countries are more and more opting for autonomous systems as a key component of their military operations.”

A Ministry of Defence official indicated that the Indian Army is set to receive the first of two initial land variants of the Drishti 10 UAVs by late February or early March. These UAVs are expected to be deployed near the Punjab border with Pakistan. With Heron Mark-II drones already part of its arsenal, the army intends to modernize its fleet of Heron Mark-I drones.

While the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)’s indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAVs, Rustom-2, are still undergoing flight trials, the Indian Army has requested an additional 60 UAVs, the Indian Air Force 12, and the Indian Navy four. Whether these orders might be directed to the Adani-Elbit joint venture has not been specified.

Hermes 900 : The Hermes 900 is a large drone in the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) category, designed for tactical roles. It can carry out an extensive array of missions, such as ongoing intelligence collection, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR).

The Hermes 900 has a wingspan of 15 m (49 ft) and weighs 970 kg (2,140 lb), with a payload capability of 300 kg (660 lb).

Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle operates within an altitude range of 10,000 to 30,000 feet (3,000–9,000 meters) and is designed to remain airborne for prolonged periods, usually between 24 to 48 hours. This category encompasses both unmanned combat aerial vehicles and unmanned reconnaissance aerial vehicles.

Based on its technical details, the Hermes 900 can operate for up to 36 hours continuously on a single mission and can carry a payload of up to 350 kilograms. It also has a maximum operating altitude of 30,000 feet. Equipped with an array of advanced sensors, the Hermes 900 has the capability to identify both land and sea targets across a broad spectrum. Additionally, it can be deployed for striking ground targets.

The drone incorporates composite materials in its construction and offers the capability for future upgrades. It is outfitted with contemporary avionics, including an air traffic control (ATC) radio, a radio relay, and an Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) transponder.

Additionally, the Hermes 900 is equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors, which contribute to its status as one of the preferred drones used by the Israeli Air Force.

The Hermes 900, known as Kochav—Hebrew for “star”—was incorporated into the Israeli military in 2012 and saw its first operational use during the 2014 Protective Edge campaign in Gaza against Hamas. The Protective Edge operation, which lasted seven weeks, resulted in the deaths of over 2,000 Palestinians and injuries to more than 10,000 individuals.

The Hermes 900 was deployed during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, with Armenia’s defense ministry spokesperson claiming that they had downed an Azerbaijani Hermes 900 drone—a claim that Azerbaijan denied.

Additionally, the Hermes 900 UAVs are being utilized in the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. As Israeli forces push deeper into Gaza City in their campaign against Hamas, drones have been a key component of their strategy. Reports indicate that Israel is employing these drones not only to lead assaults but also to conduct reconnaissance on the network of tunnels beneath the coastal area. The Hermes 900 has played a significant role in targeting and eliminating leaders of Palestinian militants and striking various targets.

(The author of this article is a Defence, Aerospace & Political Analyst based in Bengaluru. He is also Director of ADD Engineering Components, India, Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany. You can reach out to him at: girishlinganna@gmail.com)

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