The Indian Navy received the first indigenously made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ‘Drishti 10 Starliner’ from the Adani Defence and Aerospace on Wednesday, with Admiral R Hari Kumar hoping that the drone “may turn out to be a third eye in the sky” for securing maritime domain witnessing increasing challenges of conflict.
Adani Defence and Aerospace was contracted by the Ministry of Defence about ten months ago to supply four medium altitude long endurance (MALE) drones to the Indian Navy and Indian Army. Both the services will get two each in the next few months.
As per a private defence company, Drishti is an advanced surveillance and reconnaissance platform with 36 hours of endurance and 450 kg payload capacity. It’s the only all-weather military platform with NATO’s STANAG 4671 (standardised agreement 4671) certification for the UAV system’s airworthiness.
Speaking at the flag-off ceremony at the Adani Adani Aerospace Park, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar said the induction of the UAV will most probably happen next month after the training of the personnel handling the platform gets over January. It will now be taken from Hyderabad to Porbandar for induction into naval maritime surveillance operations shared by other platforms such as MQ-9 Sea Guardian.
“This is a momentous occasion and a transformative step in India’s quest for self-reliance in ISR technology and maritime supremacy. Drishti 10’s integration will enhance our naval capabilities, strengthening our preparedness in the ever-evolving maritime surveillance and reconnaissance,” he told the gathering.
Sharing the dias with him was, among others, Indian Army Aviation DG Lt Gen Ajay Kumar Suri, Telangana Minister for IT, Electronics & Communications; Industries & Commerce and Legislative Affairs Duddilla Sridhar Babu, Jeet Adani, Vice President, Adani Enterprises, Adani Defence and Aerospace CEO Ashish Rajvanshi. Minister of State for Defence Ajay Bhatt joined the function live through video conference.
The Navy Chief stated that both the neighbours, hinting at China and Pakistan, have a large inventory the UAVs that warrant enhancing the capabilities of the armed forces. Speaking about future requirements of UAVs, he stated that the three services need 97 MALE drones. Of that, the Navy has pitched for 20 of them.
Additionally, he pointed two cases of upgrades of 6 MAL UAVs. Hari Kumar also stated that the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared a proposal to get 31 HALE UAVs, out of which 15 are for the Navy and 16 each for the Army and Air Force. India is expected to seal the deal with US defence major General Atomics to procure 31 MQ-9B Predator armed drones by March.
So far, Adani Defence and Aerospace has exported more than 20 drones to Israel. Drishti was manufactured here with 70 per cent indigenous systems in the record ten months though the entire technology is from Israel.
Jeet Adani, Vice President, Adani Enterprises, said the recent geopolitical events have reinforced the convergence of physical, informational and cognitive tactics underpinned by intelligence, information processing capabilities, use of unmanned systems and cyber systems to disseminate information and disinformation.
“Intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms across land, air and naval borders are a key priority for Adani, which will help serve the needs of the Indian Armed forces and also place India on the global map for exports. We are proud to be able to serve the Indian Navy and their requirements,” Adani observed.
The Chief of Naval Staff, meanwhile, also said that in the last 40 to 42 days, 35 drone attacks took place on ships either owned or linked to Israel, mainly in the Red Sea, North Arabian Sea and Central Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy has collected samples of debris from three vessels and is examining them forensically to identify the origin of the attacks, he pointed out.
Earlier in the day, Adani Defence and Aerospace CEO, described the handing over of Drishti as a “watershed moment in our journey towards self-sufficiency and indigenisation of advanced technologies”.
Indian Army Aviation DG Lt General Suri said they hope to get two UAVs in the next two to three months and would be deployed in Bhatinda.