In mid-November the Indian Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) achieved a successful maiden test flight for the RUSTOM II UAS. Also known as the TAPAS 201, the UAS is a Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) UAS intended for surveillance and SIGINT tasks.

The test flight took place at the Chitradurga Aeronautical Test Range and cycled through take-off, bank, level flight and landing operations. Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment, DRDO’s Bangalore-based laboratory, with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) as the production partners, the two tonne UAS is the first Indian prototype to be certified and qualified for its first flight by the Centre for Military Airworthiness & Certification and the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance. This heralds a new era in indigenous UAS design and development, according to DRDO.

RUSTOM II/TAPAS 201 is being developed as a multi-mission UAS to carry out ISR missions for the three Armed Forces, with an endurance of 24 hours. It is can carry different combinations of payloads, including Medium Range Electro Optic (MREO), Long Range Electro Optic (LREO), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT) and Situational Awareness Payloads (SAP) to perform missions day and night. Critical systems such as the airframe, landing gear, flight control and avionics sub-systems are being developed in India with the collaboration of private industry, thus fulfilling the government’s ‘Make in India’ defence industrial development policy; the DRDO Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (DEAL), for example, has developed the data link.

RUSTOM II will undergo further trials to validating design parameters, before proceeding to User Validation Trials.

The successful maiden flight of the DRDO RUSTOM II MALE UAS Sets the scene for progress towards user Validation Trials. (Photo: DRDO)

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