PM’s Israel trip may see UAV deal

Recent media reports have indicated that the Prime Minister is likely to get a display of the Heron TP armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) during his visit to Israel later this year.

These would be India’s first armed drones, significantly expanding the aerial offensive capabilities of the military.

The armed UAVs for the Indian Air Force (IAF) are already being manufactured in Israel and there is a possibility of them being handed over to the IAF in the near future.

Key facts

These would be India’s first armed drones, significantly expanding the aerial offensive capabilities of the military.

India currently operates a large number of Israeli-built Heron and Searcher UAVs. India also procured a small number of Harpy loitering drones which can destroy targets by direct hits. However the Heron TP would be the first true armed UAV in the arsenal.

UAVs have become routine tools for surveillance and the armed variants would give a new and safe option in planning short and swift strikes on terrorist camps.

According to manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Heron TP is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone which can fly upto an altitude of 45,000 feet, has an endurance of over 30 hours and can carry a mission payload of 1,000 kgs.

Unmanned aerial vehicle

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. UAVs are a component of an unmanned aircraft system (UAS); which include a UAV, a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two.

The flight of UAVs may operate with various degrees of autonomy: either under remote control by a human operator, or fully or intermittently autonomously, by onboard computers.

Compared to manned aircraft, UAVs are often preferred for missions. They originated mostly in military applications, although their use is expanding in commercial, scientific, recreational, agricultural, and other applications, such as policing and surveillance, product deliveries, aerial photography, agriculture and drone racing.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Israel for the first time ever for any Indian Prime minister, signalling a major turnaround in the bilateral relationship.


The other defense deal expected during the visit is for two additional Phalcon long range Airborne Warning And Control Systems (AWACS) which would join the three systems in service with the Air Force. The radars are mounted on Russian IL-76 transport aircraft.

India-Israel relations

India recognized Israel in 1950 but soon after voted against it in the UN Diplomatic ties between India and Israel were established by Narasimha Rao’s government in 1991.

Israel opened an embassy in New Delhi in February 1992 and in May in the same year India opened an embassy in Tel Aviv. A series of cooperative agreements in various fields including the environment, health, education and drug trafficking were signed.

After the visit of then Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to India in 2003, no head of government or the state from Israel has even come here, and no Indian Prime Minister has visited Israel.

Israel has emerged as a key partner for India in the spheres of security, defence and agriculture among others. Political sensitivity over India’s longstanding ties with Palestine had forced successive governments to keep the ties low-key.

In recent years, ties have expanded to areas such as science and technology, education and homeland security. The future vision of the cooperation is of a strong hi-tech partnership as befits two leading knowledge economies. Political ties between the two countries are friendly.