India's locally developed Rustom-II medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) completed its maiden test flight at the aeronautical test range in Chitradurga, near Bangalore, on 16 November.
Official sources told IHS Jane's that the test flight was limited to a 100 km range even though the UAV's operational range to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions for all three of India's services is expected to reach to 250 km.
India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement that the test flight achieved the main objectives of testing the platform's capabilities such as take-off, banking, level flying, and landing.
Developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Bharat Electronics Limited, the first prototype of the 1.8-tonne multimission UAV - known as TAPAS 201 - has a 21 m wingspan, a capacity payload of 350 kg, an endurance of over 24 hours, and an operational ceiling of 10,660 m (34,776 feet), according to the MoD.
The public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is also a production partner in the programme.
The MoD said that the Rustom-II/TAPAS 201 is capable of carrying medium- and long-range optic sensors, synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence, communication intelligence, and situational awareness payloads for round-the-clock operations.
The UAV is powered by two Russian NPO Saturn 36T turboprop engines rated at 100 hp each. The UAV's airframe, landing gear, digital flight control, avionic, and navigational systems have all been sourced locally from public and private sector companies.
DRDO officials said the Rustom-II/TAPAS 201 would undertake further trials to validate its design parameters before conducting user trials with the respective services.
The UAV is a derivative of the Rustom-I, which conducted its first test flight in October 2010 and was designed primarily as a test bed for more advanced variants. However, DRDO sources said that the Rustom-I is also expected to enter limited service, possibly with the Indian Navy.
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