In recent years the Asian presence in the facilities of the major Israeli defense industries has become almost daily. But without any doubt, Israel aerospace industries (IAI) is the main beneficiary from the appetite of some Asian countries for very advanced weapon systems.
In some cases the development is being partially funded by the potential Asian customers. One of the many examples is the effort to develop an unmanned helicopter for the Indian navy. The basic plan was to develop an unmanned version of the Chetak helicopter.
IAI and Hindustan aeronautics limited (HAL) have been performing preliminary work on a prototype of an unmanned helicopter for the Indian navy based on the locally made Chetak helicopter. The Chetak is the upgraded version of the Chetan French platform that was made under license in India.
The flight control system for the Indian navy’s program was developed by IAI using a Bell-206. At this point is seems that until IAI gets a contract it will not go alone into the investment needed to develop an operational system.
The Israeli navy has an interest in an unmanned helicopter for its missile boats. At this stage the navy uses manned helicopters but their operation is complicated in rough sea conditions.
In the late 80’s, IAI used a Gyrodyne QH-50 as the basis for the Hellstar hovering UAS. The program was terminated after the first prototype was damaged in a hard landing.
The operational requirements of the Israeli navy and other navies, have urged IAI to resume its work on a very advanced vertical takeoff UAS. IAI is working on a dedicated unmanned rotorcraft and on a kit that will allow “Plug and Fly” conversion of any helicopter.
Sources say that the initial cooperation with HAL has been changed and that continuous “in other directions”. Immediately after IAI delivered the three Russian nade IL-76 air-crafts that were converted to serve for airborne early warning (AEW)in the Indian air-force, negotiations on a follow-on deal had begun.
The appetite for Israeli made defense systems in India has a direct effect on the demand for homeland security hardware.