Indian Navy gets its first indigenous medium-altitude, long-endurance drone

The Indian Navy received its first indigenous medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone, the Drishti 10 Starliner unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which will boost its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.

Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said the drone will be a potent force multiplier in the Indian Ocean region that faces an array of security challenges.

The Drishti 10 Starliner drone has been built by Adani Defence and Aerospace at its Hyderabad facility with technology transfer from Israeli defence firm Elbit Systems.

The UAV is the first major defence platform to be delivered to the Indian military by Adani, and is a variant of Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 Starliner drones.

Kumar was in Hyderabad for the drone’s unveiling and accepting its delivery.

It is the first of the four drones (two each) ordered by the navy and the army by invoking emergency financial powers.

The remaining systems will be delivered in the coming months.

The armed forces have a requirement for around 100 such drones.

With state-of-the art sensors, enhanced endurance, advanced communication capabilities as well as new-age technologies like automatic take-off and landing, Drishti would be a potent force multiplier, adding capability and credibility in undertaking intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) across the Indian Ocean region.

The navy’s challenges include China’s carefully calculated power play for influence, defending the rules-based international order, and the emergence of the Arabian Sea as a new front with tensions in the Red Sea escalating and piracy continuing to be a problem in the Gulf of Aden.

The navy has stepped up surveillance in the Arabian Sea substantially and deployed task groups consisting of around 10 warships in the face of rising threats.

P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, Sea Guardian remotely piloted aircraft, Dorniers, helicopters and coast guard ships are part of the effort to strengthen security in the area.

The versatility and flexibility offered through modularity and mobility of ground support equipment would enable the navy to operate the Drishti drones from naval air stations across the country.

The all-weather Drishti 10 Starliner is 70% indigenous, has an endurance of 36 hours and can carry a payload of 450 kg.

The UAV will be taken from Hyderabad to Porbandar for integration into naval operations, it said.

The UAV, which has three hard points (which can carry loads), can be weaponised if need be, HT has learnt. It has a service ceiling of 30,000 feet.

Noteworthy, the UAV has been delivered on time despite Israel’s growing military needs and Elbit Systems’ preoccupation with the ongoing conflict in West Asia.