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IAF to acquire 6 Tapas drones, lead military acquisition for Made-in-India UAVs

New Delhi: In a major boost to enhancing indigenous unmanned surveillance capabilities of defence forces, the Indian Air Force has made a proposal to the central government to buy 10 Tapas drones, officials said on Sunday.
Out of the 10, six Made-in-India drones would be for the Indian Air Force, while the remaining four would be for the Indian Navy, defence officials told ANI.
The Indian Air Force will be the lead agency for the induction and acquisition of the Tapas drones into the defence forces, they said.
The proposal by the IAF is expected to be soon taken up for discussion by the Defence Ministry.
These two forces are only buying the drones at the moment, the officials said.
Tapas drones are medium-altitude long, endurance-category drones that have been developed indigenously by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and have to be manufactured by a consortium of Bharat Electronics Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The drones have not been able to meet the requirements of the defence forces but the limited inductions by the services are going to help them be upgraded and refined in the near future to meet larger requirements, the officials said.
The IAF has a fleet of Israeli-origin Searcher, Heron Mark-1 and Mark-2 drones and is looking to induct the American Predator MQ-9B drones in the future as part of a tri-services acquisition.
The six indigenous Tapas drones would help it improve unmanned surveillance on both the northern and western fronts, they said.
In recent times, the Indian Air Force has emerged as one of the staunchest supporters of Make in India in Defence, with orders for 180 LCA Mark 1A and 156 LCH attack choppers worth around Rs 1.6 lakh crore getting placed or are about to be placed by it.
The Indian Navy intends to use the Tapas for surveillance activities over the maritime zone.
The deliveries would be made faster by the consortium as the first bird would be ready for delivery within 24 months of signing the contract, they said.
DRDO is continuing with the Tapas project to further develop the system. The Tapas drones being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment Laboratory have not been able to fully meet the Joint Services Qualitative Requirements of flying at 30,000 feet for over 24 hours at a stretch and have been excluded from the category of mission mode projects.
The Tapas drones have been tested by the defence forces and during the trials, they managed to reach 28,000 feet altitude and could fly for over 18 hours.

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