Rustom-2, the unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation, successfully completed its first flight on Tuesday in Challakere, about 200km from Bengaluru, after significant delays.
According to an unnamed source in the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), quoted by the Times of India, the vehicle “met all the expectations” during its first flight. The vehicle reportedly has a wing span of 20 metres and an endurance time ranging from 24 hours to 30 hours.
"Besides, it will also have automatic takeoff and landing capabilities, this version of Rustom is comparable to some of the best in the world," sources in ADE said.
The medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) aerial vehicle faced various roadblocks during the development and testing phases and was scheduled to take off for the first time in 2013.
Indian armed forces are increasingly looking outside the country for combat drones with deals already struck with Israeli firms. As we reported earlier, India is also looking to finalise the purchase of over 100 Avenger armed aerial drones and 22 unarmed MQ-9 Predators from the United States during Secretary of State Ash Carter’s visit to India in December.
While the ADE plans to supply the UCAV to all wings of the Indian armed forces, its ability to deliver good platform, in the stipulated timeframe, will be key. The biggest challenge faced by the scientists is the excess weight of the airframe. The airframe had a weight of about 2,400 kg by 2015 end, which ADE scientists would have to bring down to about 1,700 kg in the final version for accommodating every sensor package.
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Bharat Electronics Ltd partners DRDO in the development of Rustom-2 and has committed several hundred crores as financial support.
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