skip to main content

India‘s BEL enters UAV market to thwart airfield attacks

An image of Bharath Electronic Limited (BEL) new tethered airbase surveillance drone. (Janes/Akhil Kadidal)

Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) is developing a tethered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to thwart future infiltration attacks on air bases.

BEL officials said that the company is working on a programme to develop the tethered UAV system, which weighs 9 kg and is designed to loiter in a fixed position above airfields and army bases, providing 360-degree surveillance capability.

“The UAV is tethered by an optical fibre cable, which also has a power line leading to a ground-based battery,” a BEL official said. The officials added that the UAV has an onboard backup battery system with five minutes of power.

The UAV, as per specifications disclosed by the company, contains a single charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor that has a range of 2 km in daylight. At night, the visible range is 1 km. A second electro-optical/infrared sensor has a range of 600 m.

BEL officials said the UAV can stay airborne for six hours. The rotor operation is limited by overheating after six hours and must be cooled for an hour.

The company is considering using a water system to cool the rotors.

The company said that a typical medium-sized airfield would require two to three UAVs operating in shifts to ensure that surveillance coverage is persistent.

Development of the project began in June 2021 in collaboration with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). BEL said that demonstrations have been carried out for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...