Indian Air Force to induct first killer drones

On 04OCT12, the Economic Times, among others reported on the IAF’s plans of inducting the Israeli made Harup loitering munitions system into its ranks. (The UCAV is also known as the Harpy-2 loitering munitions missile, as the drone loiters over the battlefield and attacks the targets by self-destructing into them.)

“The UCAV are expected to join us by next year enhancing our firepower in both conventional and low intensity conflict,” a senior IAF official told reporters of PTI.

The Harop unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) has been developed from the Harpy unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), also developed by the IAI. This combat drone was originally unveiled in India at the Aero-India show in February 2009.

According to specs released by IAI, the munition system measures 2m in length and has a wingspan of 3m. The Harop attacks the enemy targets with an onboard explosive of 23kg (51lb). It can automatically search, detect, and accurately attack the mobile or static targets at long range. It detects the strong pulses transmitting from communication targets such as missile radars and collides with the source. As a result, the Harop is ideal to perform suppression of enemy air defence (SEAD) operations.

The Harop unit can be launched from various transportable platforms including sea and ground based canisters or air launched to navigate towards the potential target area. It can be launched at any angle, horizontal or at a vertical trajectory. The sealed container ensures it copes with harsh battlefield conditions. The launcher has a fuelling system to provide readiness at all times.

Controlled via remote, the airborne system incorporates a high quality night and day electro-optical and infrared seeker and anti-radar homing system to perform 24/7 missions. It also equips a forward looking infrared (FLIR) and colour charge coupled device (CCD) camera which offers a hemispherical coverage of 360° view. The relay of video imagery can also aid the operator in assessment of the battlefield through a satcom data link.

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