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Aero India 2023: Garuda Aerospace introduces Suraj solar-powered UAV

The solar-powered Suraj, a model of which was unveiled at Aero India 2023, is designed by Garuda Aerospace to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability. (Janes/Amit Kalra)

Chennai-based Garuda Aerospace unveiled a model of a solar-powered high-altitude pseudo satellite (HAPS) platform named Suraj at the Aero India 2023 show, which is being held in Bangalore from 13 to 17 February.

The HAPS unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is being developed by the company under the guidance of India's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Agnishwar Jayaprakash, founder and CEO of Garuda Aerospace, said that the Suraj system is being developed to provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to the Indian Armed Forces. HAPS platforms typically fly at altitudes of about 20 km or more.

The Suraj model unveiled at Aero India 2023 featured two pod-like structures that accommodate a propulsion system driving two-bladed propellers in tractor configuration, high-mounted wings that have a span of 26 ft, and twin tails incorporating control surfaces.

The upper surface of the wings is equipped with an array of solar cells. The UAV also has an auxiliary battery for further thrust and has an estimated flight endurance of 12 hours.

Suraj is capable of carrying payloads up to 10 kg. The payloads can include light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and thermal imaging sensors. It has a bionic chip, artificial intelligence, and machine learning for real-time processing.

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