Wednesday, November 18, 2009

DRDO downplays Rustom-I technology demonstrator UAV's crash



By Shubhadeep Choudhury

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) today played down the crash of Rustom-I technology demonstrator, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) during its first flight at a private airfield near Hosur in Karnataka yesterday.

The DRDO attributed the mishap to “misjudgement of the altitude of the flight”.

DRDO officials said due to wrong judgement of the altitude of the flight, the engine of the UAV was switched off by the ground command. This brought down the on-board thrust developed in the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) UAV and it crashed. It, however, remained unclear whether the error was a manual one or lied with the gadgets being used by the ground command to control the UAV.

The ADE, part of the DRDO, is leading the Rs 1,000-crore Rustom programme.

The UAV is expected to have capabilities that will match contemporary UAVs such as the Israeli Heron currently in use by the armed forces. The ADE is using the technology demonstrator as a stepping stone to prove the technologies that will go into the Rustom UAV.

The technology demonstrator is smaller in size than the original but has the same configuration as that of a full-fledged Rustom UAV. It was to undertake around 10 flights to check out taxing, taking off and landing like a conventional airplane but devoid of a pilot. Being smaller than the full-fledged production standard, Rustom has endurance of only 12 to 15 hours, approximately half of what the Rustom is being designed for.

“The taxing and take-off of the UAV was exactly as planned. There are a lot of gains from the flight. The flight proved the functioning of number of systems such as aerodynamics, redundant flight control, engine, redundant data link, etc which go a long way towards development of complex UAVs”, the DRDO said in a statement. It added that it was the first flight of the UAV using a 700-kg airframe and sophisticated controls and hence “prone to development hazards”.

Rustom is being developed by the DRDO for the Army, the Navy and the IAF. It is proposed to supplement the Israeli UAVs in service with the Indian armed forces.

Rustom is proposed to see the enemy territory up to a distance of 250 km and carry a variety of cameras and radar for surveillance.

Tribune News service


By vivek raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI - In a setback to India's indigenous long-range endurance UAV program, a technology demonstrator of the Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) UAV, named Rustom, crashed during the first trials Nov. 16.

Sources in India's defense research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), said scientists from Israeli had helped engineers from the Aeronautical Developmental Establishment, DRDO's Bangalore-based UAV laboratory, to build Rustom.

"First flight of the technology demonstrator for MALE UAV called Rustom-I took place on 16-11-2009 at the Taneja Aerospace Air Field near Hosur. The taxiing and takeoff was exactly as planned. Due to misjudgment of altitude of the flight, the on-board engine was switched off through ground command which made the on-board thrust developed to go to zero," said the official Nov. 17 DRDO news release.

In a departure from traditional practice, Rustom will be produced in partnership with a domestic defense firm. Talks to select the partner, which include the Tata Group, L&T and Godrej & Boyce, are likely to be concluded by year's end, said DRDO scientists.

DRDO officials said the crash would not scrap the Rustom project.

"There are a lot of gains from the flight. The flight proved the functioning of number of systems such as aerodynamics, redundant flight control, engine, redundant data link etc which go a long way toward development of complex UAVs," the news release said.

The Rustom would be equipped for intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance; communication and data relay; and scientific and meteorological operations. It will be able to operate in all climates, day or night; have autonomous takeoff and landing from a runway; be capable of carrying guided weapons; have a payload capacity of 250-500 kilograms; and have a low radar and acoustic signature.

The Rustom will be able to remain aloft for more than 24 hours and have a range of 300 kilometers and a maximum altitude of 35,000 feet. It will be able to use satellite links to transmit data, thereby extending its surveillance range beyond 1,000 kilometers.

The 1,100-kilogram UAV also will be equipped with a maritime patrol radar and electro-optic sensors from Israel, and an engine still to be determined. The electronic warfare and communication system will be indigenous.

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