DRDO's combat drone Rustom-2 takes to sky for the first time

17 November 2016

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), on Tuesday completed the first flight test of its long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), Rustom -2, after considerable delay.

The UCAV, a 'medium-altitude, long-endurance' (MALE) category unmanned aerial vehicle, completed its first flight early on Tuesday, in Challakere, about 200km from Bengaluru.

Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the DRDO, the vehicle is reported to have "met all the expectations" during the first flight.

First scheduled in late 2013, the three-year delay of the first flight, however, had cost the country dear as the armed forces are looking outside the country for combat drones, and has already struck deals with Israeli firms.

Unlike other UAVs, Rustom-2, will have all the attributes of an aircraft with a wingspan of more than 20m and an endurance of 24-30 hours.

Equipped with state-of-art technology, it will need a runway to takeoff and land unlike traditional UAVs, which makes it more trustworthy. 

Compared to Rustom-I, the advanced version will have enhanced aerodynamic configuration, digital flight control and navigation system. 

Rustom 2 will also have automatic takeoff and landing capabilities and is comparable to some of the best in the world," ADE sources said.

While the ADE hopes to bag orders from all the three wings of the armed forces -  Army, Navy and Air Force - its ability to stick to deadlines and also give a good quality platform will be key.

The Indian Army, which had inducted DRDO's earlier UAV Nishanth, had to face several crashes and is contemplating junking it with no fresh induction planned.

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