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In an attempt to supply the requirement for unmanned platforms for Indian armed forces in a fixed timeframe, India’s government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has decided to abandon the Israel-helped project to convert 2-ton class Chetak into an unmanned helicopter. Instead, HAL has invited global firms with proven capabilities in specific areas of design and development for conversion of 2-ton class Helicopters into Rotary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (RUAV).

A report on the subject, made by HAL, explained:“HAL desires to select risk-sharing partners for development of specific technologies/systems to meet the overall requirement of developing the Unmanned Helicopter,”

HAL and Malat Solution, a unit of Israel Aerospace Industries, were involved in a rotor craft developing project since 2008 which did not yield the desired results.

It is considered that the Indian Navy has forced HAL to complete, if possible, the project in fixed timeline as it urgently needs such rotary UAV for futuristic warfare.

“The Indian Navy plans to induct strategic unmanned systems, including a fleet of high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) maritime UAVs as well as rotary-wing tactical UAS. In some ways, the growing propensity of navies for autonomous operations is a reflection of the growing tensions in Asia-Pacific. The unprecedented rise in surveillance platforms deployed in the South China Sea, particularly China’s deployment of high-tech drones, such as the Harbin BZK-005, has reinforced a perception in New Delhi that Chinese future military operations will focus on dominating Asia’s littorals,” said retired Indian Naval Commander, Abhijit Singh.

According to sputniksnews.com, HAL has produced a Pilotless Target Aircraft (Lakshya) and is involved in the maintenance of other UAV categories. In addition, HAL has designed indigenous mini-UAV, which is undergoing extensive flight trials.

In a proposed rotary UAV project, the development partner would bear the cost of executing his scope of work. HAL plans to approach potential customers namely Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and others, after successful development of the Technology Demonstrator, for obtaining development and production orders. Development cost will be shared in agreed proportion between the partners from the sale of Rotary UAVs.

HAL is sending a clear signal to possible partners that it will give priority to those which has expertise in automatic flight control system. IAI and HAL failed in developing desirable flight control system. IAI-HAL Naval version of Rotary UAV was planned to have a 6 hours endurance and up to a distance of 120 km from the launching vessel.