NEW DELHI --- A procurement of armed Israeli drones is coming into view for India ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's scheduled trip to Israel in July. The Indian government fast-tracked the procurement of ten Heron TP-armed drones back in September 2015 and the UAVs are now ready for delivery.
But one hurdle remains: final milestone payment of around $400 million.
The longstanding armed drone purchase was first proposed by the Indian military in 2012 but failed to garner approval from the previous UPA-II government. Things changed in 2015 when the defense ministry green-lighted the project in order to provide the military with an element to take out large terrorist camps or individual targets in hostile territory at low risk.
Now the question is whether the final hurdle - government approval for payment - will be cleared prior to, or during, Prime Minister Modi's Israel trip.
The new Heron TPs would provide an armed reconnaissance drone that would complement the current fleet of unarmed Heron and Searcher UAVs used for surveillance and intelligence gathering.