The US and India are discussing possible opportunities for collaborative production programs, Reuters reported. Two of the programs under discussion are the local assembly of RQ-11B mini UAVs and integration and manufacturing of mission packages designed for C-130J tactical transport planes, to be used for emergency response.
While Indo-American cooperation on major defense programs has not yet succeeded, particularly due to the restricted US policy on defense export and technology transfer related to weapon systems, unmanned technology and defense electronics, it is believed that technologies related to mini-UAV systems that have been widely exported could be released to India. The Raven RQ-11B built by Aerovironment has been exported to 25 international operators, including the Netherlands, Denmark, Lebanon, Pakistan, Czech Republic and, most recently Canada.
The Indian military, government agencies and local law enforcement have multiple requirements for mini UAVs, although none have reached selections stage yet. The Indian interest attracted many UAV manufacturers from India and abroad. Matured as an operational, combat proven UAV system operated and maintained by soldiers, Raven could be suitable for part of these opportunities. However, the Raven is likely to be ‘over qualified’ for others, particularly those supporting law enforcement and security missions.