Why India upgraded the “Heron” drone

   According to Indian media reports, the Indian army will accelerate the “Cheetah” program in the near future to weaponize and upgrade the existing “Heron” UAV. The plan was reviewed and approved by the high-level agency of the Indian Ministry of Defense and led by the Indian Air Force. The core purpose is to cooperate with local Indian manufacturing companies with the assistance of the manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries, and equip the “Heron” UAV with laser-guided bombs, air Weapons such as surface-to-surface missiles and anti-tank missiles can be used to achieve the capability of monitoring and fighting.
   In recent years, UAVs have played a greater military value in several local wars, and the Indian army has paid more and more attention to the development and application of UAV equipment. Among the many types of UAVs installed by the Indian Army, the “Heron” UAV was selected for weaponization and upgrades for three reasons.
   First, get rid of the US technology blockade. India is currently the third largest importer of military drones in the world, and its imported military drones mainly come from the United States and Israel. The U.S. arms export control requirements are very strict, not only to continuously track users, but also to limit the actual deployment and use of products.
   Second, to stimulate the development of the country’s military industry. In the 1980s, India began to explore the independent research and development of UAVs, which lasted for decades with little success. In contrast, Israel’s military technology is relatively advanced, and its light weapons, air defense systems, UAVs and other equipment have superior performance, and have a good reputation in the international arms trade market. When India signs arms trade orders with Israel, it often proposes that manufacturers provide technology transfer or establish research centers to drive the development of India’s defense industrial system.
   Third, save the cost of purchasing new weapons.

   Recently, the number of military flights between Russia and Iran has increased significantly, and most of the aircraft are the Il-76 transport aircraft of the Iranian Air Force, and their destinations are basically at military airports around Moscow. Combined with the large-scale use of Iranian-made long-range cruise missiles and UAVs by the Russian army on the front line of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, it can be believed that the mission of these Il-76s is to continuously transport these Iranian “express” to Russia to supplement Frontline consumption.
   Judging from the relevant information disclosed by the U.S. military, in the near future, these Il-76 cargo lists will not only contain Iranian cruise missiles purchased by the Russian military, but may also contain Iranian-made Conqueror-110 short-range ballistic missiles with Zulfikar medium-range ballistic missiles. This also means that Russia, as a missile power, will rely heavily on Iran’s supply of ground-based short- and medium-range precision strike weapons for its front-line troops.
   In fact, it is unexpected but reasonable that Russia will take the initiative to put down its stature and purchase Iran’s long-range cruise missiles in large quantities and plan to purchase Iranian medium-range ballistic missiles. There are two main reasons why Russia is facing the dilemma of insufficient production capacity. The first is that Russia’s own industrial production system has insufficient production scale. It is different from the United States because of its deindustrialization policy, which has led to a serious decline in military production capacity. The lack of production capacity in Russia’s military industry is purely due to lack of money, resulting in many military factories still using Soviet-era equipment to produce ammunition. Admittedly, these devices are still capable of producing most basic munitions and a small number of precision-guided munitions. But as technology has advanced, these devices have become increasingly inadequate. This directly leads to the fact that when the Russian-Ukrainian conflict consumes a large amount of inventory missiles, even if the Russian army pays and provides raw materials to make the military factory work overtime to produce missiles, the production capacity will be limited by the small scale of the production line.
   The second reason is the INF Treaty. As the most famous arms limitation treaty signed by the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, the “Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” stipulates that since the signing of the treaty in 1987, the two countries will no longer maintain, produce or test land-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 500 kilometers to 5,500 kilometers. missiles and cruise missiles. Therefore, from the signing of the treaty in 1987 until the two countries tore up the “Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty” in 2018, during this 29-year period, neither the United States and Russia have developed land-based intermediate-range missiles, especially land-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Related technologies. Not to mention the related weapons and equipment.