*Porbandar, Gujarat: *The Indian Navy suffered another setback to its surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities when its remotely piloted aircraft - an Israeli-made Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) - crashed in Gujarat's Porbandar this afternoon.
The drone was on a routine surveillance mission when it lost the communication data link with the Ground Control Station (GCS) and veered off course. The drone crashed about 25 km from the INS Sardar Patel naval base in Porbandar at 1 pm.
No casualties or damage to property have been reported due to the crash.
On March 22, another Heron UAV had crashed near Porbandar. That crash too was caused by the drone losing the communication data link with the ground station.
The Heron is a medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle developed by the Malat division of Israel Aerospace Industries. It is capable of carrying out operations for up to 52 consecutive hours at a height of 35,000 feet. The drone navigates using an inbuilt GPS device and can perform both pre-programmed flights which require no remote assistance, as well as manual flights using a remote from the ground control station.
Though there is no formal data on crashes involving Heron UAVs, reports suggest that the average crash rate of these drones, since 2013, have been one per cent, an Indian Navy statement said in March.
Different versions of the Heron UAV have been in operation with all three Indian Armed Forces since 2001. India plans on buying more Heron drones from Israel over the next few years.