New Delhi: After a considerable delay, Rustom-2, India’s long endurance Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) finally completed its first flight early on Tuesday in Challakere, about 200km from Bengaluru.
The UCAV, which is in the medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) category of vehicles, sources in the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) which developed the vehicle, said “met all the expectations” during the first flight.
First scheduled in late 2013, the three-year delay of the first flight had only added to the timeline, which is punctuated by other delays during development- even as the Indian armed forces are increasingly looking outside the country for combat drones with deals already struck with Israeli firms.
Rustom-2, the developers, however, claim will be an aircraft unlike any other UAV in the ranks of our forces. It has a wingspan of more than 20m and an endurance of 24-30 hours.
Equipped with contemporary technology, it will need a runway to takeoff and land unlike traditional UAVs, which makes it more trustworthy. Compared to Rustom-I, the advanced version will have enhanced aerodynamic configuration, digital flight control and navigation system.
“Besides, it will also have automatic takeoff and landing capabilities, this version of Rustom is comparable to some of the best in the world,” sources in ADE said.
While the ADE hopes to bag orders from all the three wings of the armed forces— army, navy and the air force— its ability to stick to deadlines and also give a good quality platform will be key. The Indian army, which had inducted DRDO’s earlier UAV Nishanth, had to face several crashes and is contemplating junking it with no fresh induction planned.