New Delhi: In a boost for made-in-India weapon systems, the Indian Navy is set to place an order for four Tapas drones built in India by the DRDO.

The Indian Navy intends to use the drones developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation for surveillance over the maritime zone.

"The Indian Navy is going to order four Tapas drones and it is going to use them for maritime surveillance operations," defence officials told ANI.

The drones would be manufactured by a consortium of Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL)and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

"The deliveries would be made faster by the consortium as the first bird would be ready for delivery within 24 months of signing the contract. The existing birds or drones would be used for carrying out trials and improving their capabilities," they added.

The Tapas drones have not been able to meet the requirements of the defence forces in trials but the DRDO is continuing with the project to further develop the Tapas medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE).

The Tapas drones being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment Laboratory have not been able to fully meet the Joint Services Qualitative Requirements of flying at 30,000 feet for over 24 hours at a stretch and have been excluded from the category of mission mode projects.

The Tapas drones have been tested by the defence forces and during the trials, they managed to reach 28,000 feet altitude and could fly for over 18 hours.

In one of the trials, the drone was also operated by Indian Navy officials over the Arabian Sea for a few hours after it flew from an airfield in Chitradurga, Karnataka.

According to the sources, the runway length required for the Tapas drone to take off is not very long and can be used from some of the small airfields in the island territories and mainland.

(With Inputs From Agencies)