India is expected to sign agreements to purchase Spike anti-tank missiles and Heron TP combat drones during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel on Tuesday.
The Heron-TP armed drones form part of $400 million deal cleared by the Indian defense ministry in 2015. India became a member of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2016 which paved the way for it to acquire Heron-TP drones.
The combat drone can detect, track and take down targets with air-to-ground missiles. The drones have a mission endurance of about 30 hours and can operate in all-weather conditions.
According to IAI, the Heron-TP drone is capable of carrying a payload of over a tonne at an altitude of 45,000 feet. At Aero India 2017, IAI had showcased the MTCR-compliant Heron-TP XP drone - an export-variant of the Heron TP with broadly similar specifications. But, IAI has modified it to limit the payload to 450 kg.
Payloads for Heron TP can include electro-optical, infra-red or laser range finders with "high power optics" that can conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
The Heron-TP drone is autonomous. It can be supervised by a single operator without any need for an external pilot.
Other than Heron-TP combat drones, India might likely purchase 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles, worth about $500 million from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.