The aircraft took off even in inclement weather conditions for the first flight, flew for 12 minutes and landed successfully meeting all its objectives, a release said. Being the first full flight of the aircraft, it was under the command of Lt Col VS Thapa of Indian army, an experienced External Pilot for UAVs.
He controlled it without any difficulty throughout its flight which included pilot assisted takeoff, flight in air and a copy book style landing, the release said. Many auto features like GPS controlled Way Point Navigation, Get U Home were included in its first flight and they would be exercised in the subsequent flights. The UAV had an endurance of 12 to 15 hours and could carry payloads upto 75 Kg and had an altitude ceiling of 25000 feet, it said.
Such flights of UAVs remove the risk to human pilots when they have to fly them in hazardous zones. The data link system for this UAV was designed and developed by another DRDO lab called Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory, situated in Dehradun.
Its airframe was made by Coimbatore based private company Zephyr and most of its onboard systems were also manufactured by private industries in the country. This development was the fore runner to the medium altitude long endurance UAV project Rustom H to be taken up by the lab shortly. This also paves way for the development of unmanned combat aerial vehicles in the country. This UAV could be used by all the three armed services, in said.