INDIA’S INDIGENOUS UAV READY FOR TRIALS
By Bulbul Singh
12 Nov 09. India’s indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE)UAV, Rustam is ready for technical trials this month. Rustam is one of variety of indigenous UAV’s being developed for the Indian defence forces, thus reducing dependence on imported UAVs. Israel has helped
in this project.
Developed by India’s DRDO defence research agency, Rustam will be produced in a joint partnership project with a domestic defence agency. Talks for finding an Indian private sector defence partner are in the final stages, said scientists of DRDO.
Talks are being held with Tata Group, Larsen & Toubro and Godrej & Boyce, for producing the Rustam. Once the domestic company is selected, DRDO will enter into a joint production project.
Rustam will be equipped for C4I operations, data relay and scientific and meteorological operations. It will be able to operate in all climates, day or night, have autonomous takeoff and landing from a runway, be capable of carrying guided weapons, have a payload capacity of 250-500 kilograms and have a low radar and acoustic signature.
Sources in DRDO said that scientists from Israel had helped engineers from the Aeronautical Developmental Establishment, DRDO’s Bangalore-based UAV laboratory, to build Rustam.
Rustam will be able to remain aloft for more than 24 hours and have a range of 300 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 35,000 feet. It will be able to use satellite links to transmit data, thereby extending its surveillance range beyond 1,000 kilometers.
The 1,100-kilogram UAV also will be equipped with a maritime patrol radar and electro-optic sensors from Israel with an engine still to be determined. The electronic warfare and communication system will be indigenous.
DRDO is also developing a dedicated facility for testing UAV technologies in the southern state of Karnataka which will also
test micro, long-range and rotary UAV designs.
In addition to indigenous UAVs, the Indian Army plans to procure a variety of UAVs, including micro and nano-UAVs for short-range ISR and laser designation capabilities. The Indian Army also plans to acquire weaponised UAVs which can be armed with precision missiles which will be deployed in Jammu and Kashmir where Indian defence forces are fighting Muslim Terrorists operating from inside Pakistan.
While Rustam is likely to be ready for induction within another five years, the Indian Army is also on a global hunt for buying unspecified numbers of HALE UAVs which will be used to provide long-range surveillance with long endurance and loiter time over targets.
In addition, a procurement process is also underway for buying micro UAVs.
The Indian Navy also plans to buy around 12 rotary wing UAVs from the overseas.
The Heron UAV being used by the Indian Navy is being upgraded by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to Heron TP level, a long range weapon-carrying unmanned aircraft with a large payload and a wingspan of about 85 feet. It is about four times bigger than Heron I and has a bigger turboprop and has an endurance of up to 42,000 feet and carry a payload of 1300 pounds
The Indian Air Force is currently using over 120 Israeli UAVs including Searcher-I, Searcher-II and Heron since 2000 for gathering intelligence by use of EO/IR and SAR radar.