The IAF is planning to join hands with an Israeli firm to upgrade the UAVs of the three services under a project worth over Rs 5,000 crore to enhance their snooping capabilities.
The three services operate a fleet of more than 150 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) procured from the Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) over the last few decades.
“Under the Rs 5,000 crore projects, we will upgrade the capabilities of the UAVs in all the three services with the help of the original equipment manufacturer IAI,” a senior IAF official told PTI here.
The IAF flies the Israeli-made Searcher II and Heron UAVs for reconnaissance and surveillance purposes and about 100 Searchers are in operation on Indian borders in western, northern and eastern regions.
After the upgrades, the IAF would be capable of operating these aircraft from far-off distances and control them through satellite communication system, he said.
The IAF has been saying in the recent past that it wants to increase the number of UAVs in the force and a team has also been formed at the Air Headquarters which is looking at the requirement of these machines in the force, the official said.
The Army also operates a sizeable number of UAVs and has deployed them in borders along the western and eastern fronts.
The Army was the first to induct UAVs in the 90s starting with Searcher Mark I and Searcher Mark II which could operate at an altitude of 15,000 feet and finally the Heron, which could operate at 30,000 feet.
The IAF followed it after some time to acquire the Searcher Mark I, Searcher Mark II and the Heron UAVs.
The Navy has also three operational squadrons of the Israeli UAVs deployed along both the eastern and the western sea board.