India Conducts Test Flight of Rustom 2 Drone with New Engine

India’s state-owned defence research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flew its Rustom 2 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at its Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) located in Chalakere in Chitradurga district of Karnataka.

The drone flown was powered by a new engine which can develop a higher thrust.

“This flight assumes significance due to the fact that this is the first flight in user configuration with higher power engine”, said a statement from Indian Ministry of Defence. The statement added that “all parameters were normal”.

The flight test was witnessed by Dr. S. Christopher, Secretary Dept. of Defence (R&D) and Chairman of DRDO; Dr. C. P. Ramanarayanan, Director General (DG) of Aeronautical System at DRDO; J. Manjula, DG Electronics & Communication Systems at DRDO along with other senior scientists at DRDO.

DRDO Rustom 2 is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the three services – Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force  – of the Indian Armed Forces.

Once fully ready, the Rustom UAVs will replace Israeli Heron UAVs being used by the Indian Air Force and the Navy.

The drone is powered by two wing-mounted NPO-Saturn 36MT turboprop engines delivering a thrust of around 73.55 kW (~100 hp) each.

First flight of the UAV took place in November 2016 after a 3-year delay. It was revealed at that time that the UAV has been renamed from Rustom-II to TAPAS-BH-201, an acronym for Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201.

According to Indian media, Rustom-2 is comparable to the American-made MQ-1 Predator drone and can fly for 24 hours at stretch. It can conduct sustained surveillance missions and may carry weapons along with surveillance equipment.

The drone can loiter autonomously at high altitudes performing real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) with its SAR and EO sensors. When a target is identified, it will either illuminate the target with a laser designator for other strike aircraft, or descend to lower altitude and attack the target with its own air-to-surface missiles.

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