The UAV, re-named Rustom-1, took off in inclement weather for its maiden test flight, and landed successfully meeting all the parameters after a 12-minute sortie. Lieutenant Col V S Thapa led the exercise carried out by Aeronautical Development Establishment, a DRDO laboratory.
The successful test comes 16 months after the DRDO aborted the maiden flight of Rustom on November 15, 2009. The flight was terminated after 20 seconds of take off. Rustom-1 has several features including GPS-controlled Way Point Navigation. The UAV has an endurance of 12-15 hours and could carry payloads up to 75 kg to a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet.
“The successful test will pave way to a lot more innovation in the UAV category. While we already have intelligence gathering UAVs and remote controlled sensor devices, there is still tremendous scope in this field. We are in the process of preparing a concrete blueprint under the National Program for Micro Air Vehicles (NP-MICAV),” a senior official said.
NP-MICAV, the Rs 100-crore project sponsored by DRDO and the Department of Science and Technology was launched in August this year.
The UAVs remove the risk to human pilots when flying over danger zones. The data link system for Rustom-1 was designed and developed by Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory, Dehradun. Zephyr, a Coimbatore-based private company built the airframe and majority of the on-board systems were assembled by private units. The test is also a prelude to medium altitude long endurance UAV project Rustom-H, to be taken up shortly.
This vehicle could be used by all the three armed services.