"Air surveillance can be game-changer in the naxal theater. We want these unarmed UAVs to be flown from somewhere in the centre of the war theater. There are pre-independence air strips in Ambikapur (Chhattisgarh) and Palamu in Jharkhand where these UAVs can be based to cover the whole naxal-infested area. But they are still being flown out from Hyderabad from where these eyes in the sky can only reach lower districts of Chhattisgarh like Bijapur or Dantewada," said a senior security official dealing with naxal operations.
According to sources, at a time only one UAV can be flown as they have been provided with only one ground control station in Hyderabad to control their flight.
These UAVs are piloted by the Air Force personnel who have been sent on deputation to the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) that manages the operation and gathers imagery captured by them.
"Despite our repeated requests, the move to transfer the UAV operation to a more centrally located base has not been acceded with. If we get an eye in the sky everywhere it will be difficult for the Maoists to ambush security personnel like they did in Latehar. Besides we can plan our operations in much better way," said the official.