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09:59 AM, September 10, 2014
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India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) is close to integrating the Rustom-1 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with the automatic take-off and landing (ATOL) capability, the Indian Express newspaper reported today.

The ATOL configuration is expected to be demonstrated by the year end. More fuel can be carried for missions if the UAV is airborne for longer durations. Different types of payloads integrated on UAV can be a substitute for more fuel and will give additional operational advantage, the report said. 

“At present, we are in the process of evaluating some of the sensors required for the ATOL implementation. Extensive real-time simulation has been initiated on the UAV flight simulator to develop and fine-tune the guidance and control algorithms,” an official was quoted as saying. 

The Rustom-1 project was taken up by ADE in 2006 to convert a manned aircraft configuration to an UAV. The lab has conducted over 30 flights with an approximate $6 million spent on the program so far.

“So far our work on Rustom-1 has resulted in the availability of a baseline system, which can be considered for operational roles by the users. This system can also be developed into an efficient FTB (Flying Test Bed), which can be used as a platform for development and demonstration of some of the emerging technologies in UAV systems,” he added.

While enhancing the performance envelope of the UAV, the total weight (also called as AUW or all-up weight) goes up due to the increased weight of fuel or payload. This results in increase in take-off/landing distances and speeds.

“Beyond a point, it becomes difficult for the external pilot to confidently handle the UAV during the take-off and landing phases. Thus the capability for ATOL is essential,” the official said.

The Indian Army has shown interest in considering Rustom-1 for operational roles. However, in addition to ATOL capability, the Army wants ADE to demonstrate features such as range of operation, color video datalink and payload combinations.

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