India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted successful flight tests of Rustom-2 reconnaissance drone, over a year after the aircraft crashed during trials.
The medium altitude long endurance indigenous prototype drone achieved eight hours of flying at an altitude of 16000 feet at Chitradurga, Karnataka. The prototype is expected to achieve a height of 26000 feet and endurance of 18 hours by 2020 end, Hindustan Times reported today.
“The Rustom-2 had one hour of fuel left after eight hours of test flying at Challakere aeronautical test range in Chitradurga district of Karanataka and had achieved the test flight ceiling,” said a senior official.
The Rustom will continue to undergo test and user trials before being inducted by the Indian military.
In September 2019, the Rustom-2 crashed during tests in Chitradurga. "Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) being developed by DRDO on experimental flight trial in new configuration has crash landed in fields near ATR Chitradurga. Data is being analysed," DRDO had said in a statement.
Rustom-2 Reconnaissance Drone
Rustom 2 is part of the Rustom line of UAVs that includes Rustom-I, Rustom-H and Rustom-C. The INR 1,500-crore ($209 million) UAV project was initiated considering requirement of the Army, Navy and Air Force. It completed first test flight with high power engine in February 2018. The UAV is capable of carrying different combination of payloads (350kg) including synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness systems. The UAV has an endurance of 24 hours and is similar to the American predator series of drones.
India Plans Heron UAV Modernization
DRDO is reportedly working to match the specifications of the Rustom-2 with the Israeli Heron already in service with the military.
Additionally, the Indian defence ministry is planning on Heron upgrade. Modernization includes installing a satellite communication link so that there is no time gap in relaying situation on ground, as well as arming them with air-to-surface missiles and laser guided bombs.