New Delhi: Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar, on Wednesday, said the Predator drones provide a lot of capability to the armed forces and they are keen to acquire them.

"Indian Navy has been operating these drones. They fall in the category of the HALE, (high altitude long endurance drones). So, we realised that these drones are needed for better surveillance and increased maritime domain awareness," the Navy Chief said.

"So we had taken two of these on lease from November 2020 onwards. And since then we have been operating it," he told ANI in an interview.

He said that the forces have understood the benefits and advantages it provides to them as it can keep large areas under coverage.

In the Indian Ocean region, "you have to go 2,500 to 3,000 miles for various requirements like to know who is operating in these waters, why are they there and what are they doing there."

The Navy chief said that in peacetime, we do ISR missions that is Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions and when there is a crisis or there is combat etc, there is a possibility of using these drones for detecting, tracking and targeting also," he said highlighting the strike capabilities of the drones.

Explaining the capabilities of the drones in detail, the Navy chief said if you just look at the map here (says while pointing towards map), it's a very large area, you have to keep almost to go as far as 2500 to 3,000 miles to keep that area under surveillance for various requirements.

He said the drone helps to know who all are operating in the area of interest of the Indian Navy.

He said the Predator unmanned system, has got long endurance, almost 33 hours. It can stay in the air and reach the far reaches of the ocean and areas you want to keep under constant surveillance, which is not really possible by satellite.

The Admiral said that right now, we don't have the technology for these HALE UAVs. They are in the high-end category because of their endurance and altitude, they can fly above 40,000ft and so on.

"So by inducting these, I think the initial ten will come in, built in the US and come here. The rest will be built here, so that will give us the advantage of various technologies that can be transferred in terms of radar processing, sensor fusion, then some of the composites that are part of the aircraft, then titanium alloy castings for the undercarriage and so many others, payloads integration of the weapons," he stated.

"It will generate an entire ecosystem and facilitate the transformation of India into a global, say, unmanned aerial system hub for innovation like it was envisioned by our honourable Prime Minister," he stated.

He said the existing drones in the Navy are already providing surveillance effort for the Air Force, and the Army.

"And we have used it for keeping surveillance in the Indian Ocean on our adversaries. It has helped in anti-narcotics operations. It has been interfaced with our fleet," he said.

He said the one we are using right now has got much less capability than the ones being procured in the near future.

"So once we are going to procure, they will have much better payloads, more payloads. It will have laser, synthetic aperture radar, it'll have COMINT (Communication Intelligence), and ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and it will be hardened, it will have collision avoidance systems and can operate multi unmanned aerial vehicles in the same domain,

He said the deal will provide "a lot of advantages will be there in that and that will really be a capability boost for us."