Media outlets in India and Pakistan are reporting that India has approved the purchase of 15 Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Israel.
The proposal to buy the military surveillance drones was put before the Indian Cabinet committee on security and approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the end of December, according to the Times of India.
The unmanned craft will cost about 1,200 crores, approximately $2 million, reports the Israel National News.
The drones will likely be used to beef up surveillance along India’s borders with China and Pakistan, reports the Times of India. The Indian military already owns a fleet of over 40 similar crafts, and may upgrade the UAVs in the near future to increase long-range capability.
India has been attempting to bolster it’s UAV fleet for several years. In 2010, the government inked a contract with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) that secured Heron MALE (medium-altitude, long endurance) drones, ground control systems and data terminals, reports the Times of India.
A year earlier, in 2009, India secured an Israeli-designed Phalcon tactical and surveillance system as part of a billion dollar three-way deal between the two countries and Russia, reports the Israel National News.
India’s latest purchases reinforce the growing influence of drones in international warfare. According to CNN, in 2012 over 70 countries were in possession of some type of drone, either unarmed or armed. (In 2012, the US had over 7,500 drones in its arsenal.)
Israel has set itself apart as one of the world’s largest exporters of both the unmanned aircraft and the technology that powers them, reports CNN, noting that the IAI has sold its drone tech to everyone from Mexico to Nigeria.