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India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has shown the concept of a helicopter drone called RUAV designed to carry load in high altitude regions.
The concept shown at Aero India 2021 can be fitted with a surveillance payload too if desired. It can carry around 150 kg payload.
The drone is slated to enter detailed design stage soon and is based on the Indian Army requirement for a high altitude drone that can carry payload to front line troops.
For this, vendors for engine and other systems had already been identified. The drone is planned to be put to test over the next 1-2 years.
Endurance drones have proven to be very useful in high altitude regions. In mid-2020, China revealed its AR-500C helicopter drone capable of taking off from an elevation of 5,000 meters and a flight ceiling of 6,700 meters. It has an endurance of five hours, maximum speed of 170 kilometers an hour with a maximum takeoff weight of 500 kilograms.
The RUAV could sport similar features as the AR500C, though specifications of the RUAV are currently not known. There was no information brochure displayed at the show giving a hint of upcoming features.
The RUAV concept had a surveillance payload in its forward underbelly which could be an infra-red/optical seeker. The surveillance payload is needed to guide the drone through mountainous regions.