Hyderabad: The chief of Indian Navy, Admiral Radhakrishnan Hari Kumar, unveiled the Drishti 10 Starliner drone after receiving it from Adani Defence and Aerospace, on Wednesday. The medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is an indigenous version of Hermes-900 UAV, which is manufactured by Israel’s Elbit Systems.
It may be noted that the Indian Army and Indian Navy had purchased two Hermes-900s each under emergency procurement in 2023. Elbit sent the four of them in semi-knocked-down condition to India. Thereafter, they were assembled by Adani Defence in Hyderabad along with some indigenous components. According to Adani Defence, the Drishti 10 Starliner has over 70 per cent indigenous content.
Speaking on the occasion, Adm Hari Kumar said autonomous systems [like UAVs] were becoming a preferred choice of weapon across the world. Pointing to the recent drone attack on MV Chem Pluto in northern Arabian Sea, 200 nautical miles off the Gujarat coast, the Navy chief said it “amply demonstrates the challenges posed by such systems when they fall in the hands of non-state actors and terrorists.”
Underscoring the importance of drones, the admiral, referring to China and Pakistan without naming them, said, “Both our immediate neighbours collectively hold a very large inventory of UAVs. Therefore, it is only prudent that we, as a nation, and as armed forces, continue to harness our resident expertise in this domain, by remaining agile, adaptable, and ahead of the curve.”
Currently, Navy personnel are undergoing training to operate Drishti 10 at the Adani Aerospace Park in Hyderabad, which Adm Hari Kumar said would be over by the middle of this month. The formal induction ceremony would take place at Gujarat’s Porbandar in February.
Speaking to reporters, the director general of the Army Aviation Corps, Lieutenant General Ajay Kumar Suri, said the Army and the Navy ordered two of these drones each due to the urgent need for satellite communication-enabled UAVs. He further said the Army was expecting to receive its two Drishti 10 Starliner drones in the coming 2-3 months.
In his address at the event, the CEO of Adani Defence and Aerospace, Ashish Rajvanshi, said, “The handover of the Drishti 10 Starliner UAV is a watershed moment in our journey towards self-sufficiency and indigenization of advanced technologies. Our on-time delivery to the Navy is a testament to our robust quality management processes and excellent support from our partners, who worked diligently over the last 10 months from contract to delivery.”