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India tests Abhyas HEAT system at low altitudes

India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited won a contract in late 2021 to start building the Abhyas High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (pictured above) for the Indian military. The system was tested at low altitudes on 29 June. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

India has tested its locally developed Abhyas High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) off the country's east coast.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in New Delhi said that the test – on 29 June – demonstrated the Abhyas system's performance at low altitude including capability at “sustained levels” and “manoeuvrability”.

The test was carried out a few months after state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced that it had won a contract to mass produce the Abhyas for the Indian military.

In a statement, the MoD said that in the recent test the Abhyas target was flown from a ground-based controller in a “pre-designated low-altitude flight path” that was monitored by tracking sensors including radar and electro-optical targeting systems.

It said that the target system was launched using twin under-slung boosters to provide its initial acceleration. It added that the system is also powered by a small gas turbine engine, which is intended to provide “long endurance flight at subsonic speeds”.

The aerial target is also equipped with a micro-electromechanical system-based inertial navigation system as well as an onboard flight-control computer for guidance and control.

The MoD said it is also fitted with a locally developed radio altimeter to enable “very low-altitude flight” as well as a datalink system to facilitate communication with a ground control station.

Abhyas was designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation's (DRDO's) Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). The target, which was first tested in May 2019, is designed to simulate aircraft for endoatmospheric, surface-to-air, and air-to-air interception missile testing.

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