Lucknow: State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Wednesday signed a strategic partnership agreement at the DefExpo 2020 with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Dynamatic Technologies Limited (DTL) to jointly manufacture drones.
Defence sources told ThePrint that while the MoU is for the manufacturing of the UAV named Heron Mark II, which is not armed, it could be converted into an armed UAV if the armed forces so desire.
The MoU calls for marketing, manufacturing and selling of IAI’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to potential Indian customers such as defence forces, paramilitary forces and central armed police forces.
Sources said the MoU could also explore the potential of manufacturing drones in India and exporting the same to a third company in the future.
“The collaboration will provide excellent opportunity to HAL to expand its product offerings to defence customers, absorb critical technologies and strengthen the aerospace ecosystem in the country, especially for UAVs,” HAL chairman and managing director R. Madhavan told reporters in Lucknow where the expo is being held.
The MoU, as and when it fructifies into actual contract, would lead to the manufacturing of the second range of Israeli UAVs in India, besides the joint venture between Adani and Elbit to make the unarmed Hermes 900 class of drones for export.
What is Heron MK II?
India currently uses the Israeli Heron drones, whose maintenance is done by the HAL.
The Israeli firm will unveil the Heron Mark II at the upcoming Singapore Airshow scheduled this month.
According to Globes, Heron MK II is fitted with a Rotax 915 iS engine and can reach an altitude of 35,000 feet. It has a maximum speed of 140 knots and can remain in the air for 45 consecutive hours.
The Heron MK II is capable of carrying diverse payloads, sources said.
The UAV belongs to the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) class and is a potential product for the armed forces, which are keen on better and higher endurance drones.