The navy has three UAS bases around the country and is in the process of contracting for more Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Herons to augment its existing fleet of the type.
For more than two years, the navy has also been in the market for shipborne rotary-wing UAS. Competitors include the Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout, Saab Skeldar V-200 and EADS Cassidian Tanan 300. The requirement was floated following slow movement on the naval rotary UAV program, on which Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is working with IAI, based on the locally built Chetak (Alouette III) helicopter. The program has run into several hurdles with the autopilot and other systems, delaying it indefinitely and compelling the navy to remove it from its immediate requirements list.
India's indigenously designed Rustom-H HALE UAS is slated for a first flight in February 2014 and has commenced ground tests. Powered by twin turboprop engines, the UAS will be developed into three variants: one for land surveillance, one for extended maritime reconnaissance and a hunter-killer variant that will be built to deploy stand-off strike weapons.