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The Indian Navy has welcomed its inaugural indigenous medium-altitude long-endurance drone, the Drishti 10 Starliner unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), marking a significant advancement in its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar highlighted the drone’s role as a potent force multiplier in addressing diverse security challenges within the Indian Ocean region.

Crafted by Adani Defence and Aerospace at its Hyderabad facility, the Drishti 10 Starliner is the initial major defense platform delivered to the Indian military by Adani. This UAV, a variant of Elbit Systems’ Hermes 900 Starliner drones, was developed with technology transfer from the Israeli defense firm.

Admiral Kumar, present at the drone’s unveiling and acceptance in Hyderabad, emphasised the strategic importance of the Drishti 10 Starliner in bolstering naval capabilities. This drone is the first among the four ordered by the navy and the army through emergency financial powers, with the subsequent deliveries scheduled in the coming months. The armed forces have expressed the need for approximately 100 such drones.

Equipped with state-of-the-art sensors, extended endurance, advanced communication capabilities, and features like automatic take-off and landing, the Drishti 10 Starliner enhances intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities across the Indian Ocean region. Admiral Kumar acknowledged the navy’s challenges, including China’s strategic moves, the defense of the international order, and the emerging front in the Arabian Sea with escalating tensions in the Red Sea and persistent piracy issues in the Gulf of Aden.

The navy has intensified surveillance in the Arabian Sea, deploying task groups of around 10 warships to counter rising threats. Various assets, including P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, Sea Guardian remotely piloted aircraft, Dorniers, helicopters, and coast guard ships, contribute to strengthening security in the region.

The Drishti 10 Starliner, boasting 70% indigenisation, has a remarkable endurance of 36 hours, a payload capacity of 450 kg, and three hard points for potential weaponisation. Adani Defence and Aerospace highlighted the drone’s versatility, enabling operations from naval air stations across the country.

Expressing pride in the achievement, Admiral Kumar described the integration of Drishti 10 as transformative for India’s pursuit of self-reliance in ISR technology and maritime supremacy. Adani Enterprises vice president Jeet Adani stressed the company’s commitment to prioritising ISR platforms across land, air, and naval borders for the armed forces and positioning India as a global exporter. Despite challenges, the timely delivery of the UAV, even amid Israel’s heightened military demands and Elbit Systems’ engagements in the West Asia conflict, stands as a testament to Adani’s robust processes and support from partners.

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