Indigenous medium altitude long-endurance drone TAPAS is expected to begin military trials this month, Reuters has reported.
The development comes just weeks after the platform showcased its capabilities to a tri-services team for the first time, in a demonstration held at the Aeronautical Test Range in Karnataka's Chitradurga.
The TAPAS unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by DRDO, is now ready for the crucial phase of user evaluation trials, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) said in a statement after the flight.
The platform, it said, has successfully completed 200 flights.
The user evaluation trials, set to commence shortly, will allow the Indian Armed Forces to thoroughly assess the TAPAS UAV's capabilities in real-world scenarios. These trials aim to evaluate its performance, operational efficiency, and suitability for various defence applications.
In June this year, the DRDO and the Indian Navy successfully demonstrated the transfer of command and control capabilities of the TAPAS UAV from a distant ground station to the onboard INS Subhadra, a warship located 148 km away from the Karwar naval base.
According to reports, DRDO's TAPAS is capable of operating at altitudes up to 28,000 feet with an endurance of over 18 hours.
"The platform...has met most requirements but needs further work to fulfil the military's goal of a drone that can reach an operational altitude of 30,000 feet and remain airborne for 24 hours," the report says, citing information received from Y Dilip, director of the state-run Aeronautical Development Establishment.
"Primarily we were constrained by the engines," Dilip explained, as neither domestically produced engines nor international models were deemed suitable for the task at hand.
The first public flight of the TAPAS surveillance drone took place at Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru earlier this year.
Designed as a solution to the tri-services' intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, tracking and reconnaissance or ISTAR requirements, this platform can operate effectively in both day and night conditions.
The UAV can be controlled remotely or operate autonomously, executing pre-programmed flight plans with precision and flexibility.
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