KOCHI: An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operated by the Indian Navy crashed between Vathuruthy and Katari Bagh short of the runway at INS Garuda at the Southern Naval Command here at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The UAV, the Israel-made Searcher Mark-II, was on a routine training sortie and was approaching the runway for landing when it came down crashing. According to sources, “the crash did not appear to be very serious prima facie” and the damage sustained by the aircraft on the impact of crash is “repairable”.
“The UAV has been salvaged,” they said. The Navy, it is believed, will approach the IAI - original equipment manufacturer - to do the repairs .
“The accident occurred just short of the runway, as it was approaching for landing. There are no casualties or injuries. A detailed inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” said a Navy spokesperson here.
The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 342 ‘Flying Sentinels', Southern Naval Command-based first UAV squadron of the Navy, operates a dozen Herons and Searcher Mark-IIs built by the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
Although the UAVs were inducted into the Navy in Kochi as early as 2003, a full-fledged squadron was formed only in 2006 after intensive flying trial. It has so far maintained an incident-free record.
The UAVs fly regular tactical missions from INS Garuda and are relied upon for maritime reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. Equipped with state-of-the-art synthetic aperture radar (SAR), electro-optic (EO) and infrared (IR) sensors, the ground-controlled UAVs are capable of capturing and relaying real-time images of locations and targets to a shore-based control room or a ship, thereby contributing immensely to the navy's maritime domain awareness.
As for the Searcher Mark-II UAV, it has a short-take off and landing; an endurance of about 20 hours covering over a hundred mile area; low-noise to dodge detection and the capability to operate in adverse weather conditions.
The Indian Navy was one of the first to operate the UAVs in the tropical environment.
The Indian Air Force and the Army also operate Searcher UAVs.