India to buy attack drone IAI Eitan from Israel
The Indian Air force all set to induct combat drones from Israel within a year, an agreement reached with Indian Ministry and Israeli aircraft industries to supply the attack drone IAI Eitan, ground control station, modification of exiting air base to accommodate much larger drone, weapon packages, and spare parts, the deal valued more than some $400 millions, with the price tag of $40 million per plane, IAF plans to induct nearly 10 Eitan drones in it's attack drone fleet,
The Indian air force planned to induct the attack drones by earlier 2012, and sought foreign drones, meantime DRDO proposed Rustom 2 drone with attack capabilities, and promised to deliver within a matter of time, however the progress of Rustom 2 is not going well, as Chinese already developed and testing a drone similar to US MQ 9 Reaper drone dubbed wing loong, the Pakistani's also performed a battlefield UAV with attack capabilities, and India yet to catch up.
It's hard to digest that IAF asked to purchase some attack drones from Israel, who is willing to sale only to India, however with some political reasons the UPA government denied to allocate funds to buy attack drones, and the new government already briefed by the IAF several times, and they cleared the deal by now, last week the NSA Chief Ajit Doval due a visit to Israel and met some Israeli officials, within a days some Israeli officials too visited Delhi and sealed the deal.
Israel is known as a reliable partner to India, who ready to sell it's state of art technology to India with transferring critical technologies, It's believed that IAI might allow the DRDO team to inspect and study the Eitan drone and continue work on the Indigenous Rustom 2 drone,
IAF may think to establish a new drone base somewhere in western front, by deploying those attack drones to monitor the international border, IAF already operating array of Israeli drones including the Heron drone similar to Eitan and target drones like Harpy and Haroop. the Eitan is developed based on the Heron UAV, sharing similar airframe and characteristics, the Navy and Airforce operates more than fifty such drones for recon purpose.
The Eitan is an MALE- Medium Altitude and Long Endurance UAV's ,means they can operate in the medium altitude some 30,000 feet to 50,000 feet, and stay in the air for more than 30 hours, to conduct recon missions continuously, the earlier Heron is lack of range due to it's data link and control methods, Heron can perform mission inside a circle of 350 km, because it is designed to patrol the designated area for more than a days
The Eitan something like the American MQ 9 Reaper, or more powerful than the Reaper, the Eitan is designed to fly above the commercial air traffic that is 30,000 to 40,000 feet, because of long endurance the Eitan can stay above the commercial air line for more than a day, the Eitan can fly above some 45,000 feet and perform recon missions, the huge wing helps the Eitan to fly very low to perform strike mission and within a matter of time it can reach the higher altitude to continue the surveillance, the Earlier Heron is not designed to fly such high altitude, it's fly below some 10,000 feet, the American MQ 9 is also share same characteristics of flying altitude.
The drones are powered by turboprop engines, so they were slow speed and subsonic, the Eitan uses the Canadian Pratt and Whitney engines which delivers 1200 horse power way too powerful than the American Reaper, which accelerates the Eitan to reach more than 300 kilometers per hour in normal flight speed, the reaper is much faster than the Eitan, the IAI Eitan is much larger drone, with the length of some 13 meters and a wing span of some 26 meter similar wing size to the Boeing 737 Commercial Air Plane.
Once the Eitan fully fueled, it can stay in the air for more than 36 hours, with the use of Satellite communication it can perform mission with the range of some 7,000 kilometers, one of the very few drone who works on the beyond line of sight, and it's possible even if the Base is located in Delhi, the drone can perform attack mission deep behind enemy lines, similar capabilities is not available in any other drones, except the US Navy MQ 4 Global Hawk.
Originally the Israeli's made the Eitan to attack Iranian long rang missiles in it's launch pads, that's the main reason of increased Range and Endurance, and Israel tested the drone by flying more than 20 hours with beyond line of Sight, the Drone can't be jammed by it's signal since it uses secured satellite communication and uses pre- programed flight routes in communication denied air spaces, the onboard system allows the Drone return to Base if the mission is compromised or successful,
The Eitan carries upto one ton of payload's in it's center line, with a quad packed Hellfire anti armor missiles, precision and laser guided munitions and Spice missiles, IAF receives such weapons and armaments along with the $400 million deal, Israeli's used the Eitan during the Israel Palestine war The drone dropped precision guided munitions against a moving armed convoy. and some Strike missions against the Terrorists in Sinai peninsula.
With the induction of armed drones gives an upper edge to India by conducting strike missions against infiltrators along the international border, earlier the Recon drones gives moving information to the army commands, while they send Soldiers to confront them, and from now they never risk the Soldiers life, if anyone tries to Infiltrate the border, the Eitan comes from the Sky and drop the munition without any warning, and It's a boost to IAF that in future they can conduct strike missions inside Pakistan by targeting terrorists camps.