Archer-NG, an armed drone designed and built in India, could be flight tested for the first time as early as June-July this year.
The drone is capable of carrying 300 kilograms of weaponry. The weapons that it can carry include indigenously developed smart anti-airfield weapons (SAAWs) and anti-tank guided missiles.
An upgraded version of the Rustoum-1 drone developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Archer is capable of flying at an altitude of upto 22,000 feet. The indigenous drone has an endurance of 12 hours and a range of around 220 kilometers, and is capable of both conventional and auto take-off and landing.
Apart from destroying targets, the drone is also capable of providing real-time, high-quality imagery and signal intelligence.
A successful flight of the drone will be a significant achievement for India, which has so far lagged behind countries like China and Turkey in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles. The utility of drones in the modern battlefield has been proven beyond doubt in the Russia-Ukraine war.
While China has deployed a range of drones, including armed ones, and exported them in large numbers, India is likely to buy 18 armed UAVs from the US to meet the urgent requirements of the three services. The deal, which has been under discussion for years, could see forward movement ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's likely US visit this year.
Meanwhile, the DRDO is preparing to conduct the first public flight of India's TAPAS surveillance drone at Aero India 2023 in Bengaluru next week.
DRDO's TAPAS, a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle, is capable of operating at altitudes up to 28,000 feet, with an endurance of 18 plus hours.
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