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IAF Proposes To Acquire Tapas To Bolster Indigenous Defence Facilities

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The Indian Air Force proposes to purchase 10 Tapas drones, developed locally by DRDO, with production led by BEL and HAL, supporting India’s UAV manufacturing initiative.

In a pivotal move to fortify India’s Indigenous unmanned surveillance capabilities, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is proposing the acquisition of 10 Tapas drones to the central government. Six of these are earmarked for the IAF, while the remaining four are designated for the Indian Navy. The IAF assumes responsibility for leading the procurement and integration of these medium-altitude, long-endurance drones developed locally by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. Manufacturing will be handled by a consortium comprising Bharat Electronics Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, aligning with India’s efforts to promote domestically produced UAVs. This initiative underscores a strategic push towards self-reliance in defence technology and supports the country’s national security objectives, emphasizing the critical role these drones play in safeguarding our nation.

The Indian Air Force’s proposal to procure 10 Tapas drones is set to be discussed soon by the Defence Ministry. Currently, both the IAF and the Indian Navy are in the process of purchasing these drones. Despite initial challenges in meeting defence requirements, the IAF’s limited acquisitions will facilitate future upgrades and refinements to meet broader needs. The IAF, with its existing fleet of Israeli-origin Searcher, Heron Mark-1, and Mark-2 drones, and plans to integrate American Predator MQ-9B drones in a tri-services acquisition strategy, is committed to enhancing unmanned surveillance capabilities along India’s northern and western fronts with the addition of six indigenous Tapas drones.

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Recently, the Indian Air Force has prominently supported the Make in India initiative in Defence, with substantial orders placed or soon to be placed for 180 LCA Mark 1A and 156 LCH attack helicopters, collectively valued at around Rs 1.6 trillion. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy intends to deploy Tapas drones for surveillance across maritime zones. A consortium comprising Bharat Electronics Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited anticipates expedited deliveries, aiming to deliver the first drone within 24 months of contract signing.

DRDO continues to advance the Tapas project, focusing on further system development. While drones developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment Laboratory are yet to fully meet the Joint Services Qualitative Requirements, particularly in sustained flight capabilities at 30,000 feet for over 24 hours, ongoing efforts are aimed at enhancing the Tapas drones to effectively meet future operational demands. This commitment to improvement underscores the potential of the Tapas drones to significantly contribute to India’s national security.

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