India’s Mahindra partners with Israel’s Aeronautics to make drones

India’s Mahindra partners with Israel’s Aeronautics to make drones

The companies plan to manufacture a maritime version of Aeronautics' Orbiter 4 drone in India for the Indian Navy

An Aeronautics Ltd. drone (Courtesy)
An Aeronautics Ltd. drone (Courtesy)

Mahindra Defence, an Indian manufacturer of defense systems, and Israeli drone maker Aeronautics Ltd. have signed a partnership accord to build naval unmanned vehicles that can be launched and recovered from Indian warships.

The companies said Thursday they have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly manufacture a maritime version of Aeronautics’ Orbiter 4 drone for the Indian Navy. Aeronautics’ Orbiter series of unmanned aerial vehicles is already being sold in other countries.

The Orbiter 4 is an advanced drone that can perform multiple missions and can operate two different payloads — e.g., maritime patrol radars, cellular interception sensors, satellite communications, automatic identification and advanced electro-optic systems — simultaneously. The drones have an open architecture, meaning they can be adjusted to the needs of each mission.

The drones can fly up to 24 hours, with a maximum takeoff weight of 50 kilograms and a maximum flight altitude of 18,000 feet while operating different payloads.

The UAVs developed jointly with Mahindra will carry state of the art sensor payloads as required by Indian Navy, and will be capable of being launched and recovered from small warships that do not have a helicopter deck, including small warships, the companies said in a statement.

“We will work together with Mahindra Defence to manufacture Orbiter UAVs in India,” said Amos Mathan, the CEO of Aeronautics, in the statement. “We are ready for transfer of technology and transfer of production line in India.” This would be the first foray of Aeronautics, whose shares are listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, into the Indian market.

Mahindra Defence is a unit of Mahindra, a $19 billion conglomerate with over 200,000 employees and activities that span sectors from defense, to automotive to financial services and real estate. The defense unit supplies military equipment and systems to clients globally, and is looking to enter new areas of business, like defense aviation and aircraft for the armed forces.

“We always identify high quality products and enter into partnerships that we believe will bring maximum value to our defense forces,” Sri Prakash (SP) Shukla said in the statement. “We have entered into this partnership to address a range of possibilities,” including manufacturing the products in India, through technology transfer, and “life-time support of the product.”

Aeronautics has unmanned aerial systems deployed by over 75 defense, military, and homeland security forces in more than 50 different countries around the world, for paramilitary and homeland security missions.

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