Israel In Talks With DRDO For Lakshya

New Delhi: | Updated: Feb 27 2003, 05:30am hrs
Israel is negotiating with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the the acquisition of the Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) Lakshya target drone. Tel Aviv has held extensive trials of the PTA last November.

According to government sources, following Indian pressure, Israel has opened price negotiations for Lakshya as part of a deal to offset the large amount of military equipment Israeli companies are selling to New Delhi.

Over the past five years Israel has, after Russia, become Indias second-largest supplier of military equipment.

Sources at Hyderabad-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) have indicated that a squadron of six Lakshya drones, one ground control station (GCS) and related flight expendables costing between $2 million and $4 million.

Scientific advisor to the defence ministry and head (Defence Research) DRDO, Dr VK Aatre confirmed that Lakshya would be acquired by another country, but did not to identify it. The price was being negotiated, he said at the Aero India 2003, show earlier this month.

However, sources in ADE who are responsible for Lakshyas development and limited series production of five systems each for Indias three services - confirmed that Israel was the country to which Dr Aatre was referring.

Lakshya is a reusable remote operated aerial target system, for providing training to gun and missile crew and air defence pilots.

With the delivery of five Lakshya, the limited series production (LSP) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been completed.

The first batch has been delivered to the Navy and inducted.

Israel was also considering leasing some drones because it was a cheaper option and free from maintenance and other logistical problems, sources at Aeronautical Development Establishment informed.

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and several private and state-owned engineering and electronic companies were awaiting further orders for the Indian forces and Israel before starting Lakshyas series production, the sources added.