Air Platforms

Aero India 2017: CSIR NAL debuts Suchan UAV

16 February 2017
Suchan features a daylight camera integrated into the air vehicle's nose. Source: Mathew George

CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) has showcased a new small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) at Aero India 2017 in Bangalore.

The Suchan system is an indigenous development and is designed to be hand launched and belly landed. CSIR-NAL also claims that Suchan has a fully developed autopilot, enabling it to conduct autonomous operations throughout the flight envelope (takeoff to landing), with the aid of GPS.

The system is designed to fill a number of roles, including ISTAR. (Mathew George)The system is designed to fill a number of roles, including ISTAR. (Mathew George)

The present payload is a single, replaceable daylight camera integrated into the nose of the aircraft; this may be extended to two units in the near future.

Suchan has a high-mounted wing and a pusher-propeller configuration, with the propeller position on the rear of the wing.

Recent tests have demonstrated an endurance of up to 75 minutes as opposed to the initial design of 60 minutes. The operating altitude ranges from 328 ft to 984 ft above ground level, with a maximum altitude of 15,000 ft above sea level. The platform is intended to undertake intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions, border and coastal patrol, battle damage assessment, and search-and-rescue missions. Commercial applications would also include traffic monitoring and weather data collection, among others.

According to CSIR-NAL sources, the development of the Suchan started in 2012 under government- planned CSIR project specifications and the aircraft was test ready by 2014. The test demonstrations for high-altitude operations were carried out at Leh, Ladakh, while the rest of the testing and pre-trials were mostly held at Bangalore and Hoskote.

Sources also noted that trials have been carried out with the National Security Guard, Central Reserve Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and the South Western Air Command of the Indian Air Force.

Plans have been developed to increase the endurance to 120 minutes while also trying to install near infrared cameras, and multispectral and high-spectral sensors for agricultural and land survey uses.

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