UK Drone ‘Banshee’ Is All Set To Go For Flight Trials

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Bhubaneswar: After a couple of internal trials, an advanced version of UK-made unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Banshee is all set to go for actual flight trials from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea off Odisha coast on Thursday.

Banshee is a pilot-less target aircraft designed to be used as a target for surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems. Fitted with integrated GPS, autonomous waypoint navigation and digital telemetry systems, the UAV is suitable for use on land and at sea.

Defence sources said a team of officials is camping here for the flight test. Two rounds of internal trials were conducted from the launching complex-III of the test facility on Tuesday.

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‘’The drone is ready for the actual trial which is aimed at evaluating its duration of stay on air and endurance. The advanced version of the British pilot-less target aircraft has the capability to fly more than an hour with better on-air performance and durability,’’ said an official.

The aircraft is also designed to float for overwater operations. It can be retrieved after trials. Its installable options include radar enhancement devices and target sleeves. It can simulate a sea-skimming missile or serve as a scouting UAV with a camera.

The length of the aircraft is about 2.84 metres, wingspan 2.49 metres and height 0.86 metre while it weighs around 73 kg. Travelling at a maximum speed of 486 km/h, it can fly nearly 55 minutes with a service ceiling of 26,000 feet. It has an operational range of 100 km.

Banshee is lighter than Lakshya UAV, which has been developed by Defence and Research and Development Organisation. Lakshya is powered by a turbojet while Banshee is powered by rotary engine.

Even as Banshee is preferred as a target during training exercises instead of Lakshya, the latter is cheaper than the former. Banshee is also easily retrievable as it weighs less.

The British drone was used as a target during the test-firing of surface-to-air missile Barak-8 on June 30 and July 1 last year. Both the tests went perfectly. Ten countries including India have deployed the drone.