India has finalised the deal to buy four new Heron TP drones from Israel that will initially be used in surveillance and reconnaissance missions, but will eventually be upgraded and armed with missiles for precision strikes under Project Cheetah when it kicks off, News18.com has learnt.
Defence sources said a contract to this effect has been signed and that the drones should arrive by the end of this year. Sources added that while the initial plan was to lease the four drones from Israel, India later decided to buy them instead.
When Project Cheetah is finalised, the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Heron TP UAVs in the inventory of the Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force (IAF) will not just be upgraded with advanced satellite communication and sensors for longer surveillance and reconnaissance missions, but are also likely to be armed with air-to-ground missiles and laser-guided munitions for precision strikes.
Some of the upgraded Heron TP UAVs will have a loitering time of nearly 24 hours and a communication range of 1,000 km.