India’s indigenous combat drone well on track to user-evaluation trials later this year

Having made its first flight in November 2016, HAL is now gearing up to produce five TAPAS MALE UAV drone for user validation trials, which would tentatively start in October 2022.

DNA India

Apparently, eight prototypes of the TAPAS UAV have been built so far and the platform has completed 143 test flights- something which has been confirmed by sources in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE).

We are currently in the process of design validation. The final design configuration will be frozen in June or July

an ADE source said

Reportedly, out of the five UAVs which will be prepared by the HAL for evaluation by the military, ADE will integrate the first two aircraft while the remaining three UAVs will be integrated by HAL.

This is to help HAL acquire expertise in the platform

the ADE source said

It further mentioned that HAL will also be the beneficiary of a transfer of technology for the future production of the platform.

All five aircraft are expected to be delivered by HAL in April 2023.

Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance (TAPAS)

Formerly referred to as “RUSTOM II”, the Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance, is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed in India by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) on the lines of General Atomics MQ-1 Predator.

General Atomics MQ-1 Predator | Simple Wikipedia

Rustom-2, the next-generation version of its predecessor Rustom-1, is equipped with enhanced aerodynamic configuration, digital flight control, navigation system, communication intelligence medium and long-range electro-optic payloads and synthetic aperture radar that will enable it to see through the clouds.

Indian Military Review

Powered by twin NPO-Saturn 36MT turboprop engines, it is also capable of carrying different combinations of payloads depending on the mission objectives including electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness systems.

Tech and specs

Capacity350 kg payload
Length31 ft 2 in
Propellers3-bladed constant-speed propeller
Maximum speed 224 km/h 
Range 1,000 km
Endurance 24 hours
Service ceiling10,668
Empty weight1,800 kg
Wikipedia

Featuring automatic takeoff and landing makes it comparable to some of the best in the world.

The drone can loiter autonomously at high altitudes performing real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance with its SAR and EO sensors. When a target is identified, it will either illuminate the target with a laser designator for other strike aircraft or descend to a lower altitude and attack the target with its air-to-surface missiles.

Defence View

Aircraft of comparable configuration and performance (same era)

DRDO Rustom-1

Tarmak007

IAI Heron (Israel)

Wikipedia

SOURCE(s)

COVER: Full Afterburner

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