Indigenous UAV Rustom-2 to complete user trials by August 2023

Rustom-2 has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru.

Updated - October 20, 2022 12:00 am IST

Published - October 19, 2022 11:00 pm IST - GANDHINAGAR

 Rustom-2 during a test flight.

 Rustom-2 during a test flight. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The indigenous medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is expected to complete all user trials by August 2023, according to defence officials. Parallelly, a separate project for the weaponisation of the Rustom UAV is also under way.

“Four prototypes of Rustom-2 are currently flying. Five production models will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), which is the production partner,” a defence official said on the sidelines of DefExpo-2022. “The production models will be ready in five or six months.”

A second official said that night flying trials had started but were held up due to logistical issues and were expected to be completed shortly. “User trials are scheduled to be conducted soon,” the official said.

Last December, Rustom-2 had crossed a milestone by reaching an altitude of 25,000 feet and an endurance of 10 hours. The target is to reach an altitude of 30,000 feet with an endurance of 20 hours endurance which has to be demonstrated, the officials stated.

DRDO officials had said in the past that Rustom-2 technologically matched the contemporary UAVs available and would also be cheaper than the imported ones while meeting the requirements of the three Services.

Rustom-2 has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru, with the production partners being HAL and Bharat Electronics Ltd. It is being developed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles and is capable of carrying different combinations of advanced payload and capable of auto landing, among others.

High endurance UAVs are a priority requirement for the Indian armed forces especially in view of the stand-off with China in eastern Ladakh. Indian armed forces rely heavily rely on Israeli Searcher and Heron drones to meet their requirements and they have need for more such UAVs.

The Services have embarked on a major upgrade project of the Heron UAVs in use. A separate proposal for 30 armed Predator drones, 10 each Service, from the U.S. has been delayed.

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