- Rustom 2 drone comparable to US-made predator, can fly for 24 hours
- Drone part of Rs 67,000 crore spending on Made in India military hardware
- Drones help in surveillance, aerial combat missions without risk to lives
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The timing of Rustom-2 development is crucial. Recently, the government has decided to spend Rs 67,000 crore on Made in India military hardware, under which 598 mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or drones will also be purchased.
A medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, Rustom-2 is comparable to the American made Predator drone and can fly for 24 hours at stretch. It can conduct sustained surveillance and can carry weapons along with surveillance equipment.
Rustom-2 will undergo further trials regarding its design parameters after which it will be ready for User Validation Trials.
The application of drones is manifold - including reconnaissance, surveillance, intelligence gathering and aerial combat missions. What makes them indispensable is that they can conduct these tasks at a fraction of the cost of a manned aircraft and in case of a crash or malfunction, costs no lives.
The most recent instance of drone usage by India had been during the army's surgical strikes on terror launchpads across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, where the drones have monitored and filmed the proceedings.
For that operation, the military had to rely on imported drones, which had long endurance and a capacity to fly in high altitudes. But experts say in future, Rustom-2 will be able to carry out such missions.
The maiden test flight of Rustom-2 was conducted from Chitradurga, 250 km from Bengaluru, where a new Aeronautical Test Range has come up. Both drones and manned aircraft can be tested there.
The 2-tonne UAV, which has a wing span of 20 meters, was controlled by members of the armed forces.
It has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment - the Bangalore-based premier lab of Defence Research Development Organisation.
The Rustom-2 has been renamed Tapas 201. The Rustom-1, which flew for the first time in 2009, had been named after the late Rustom Damania, who helped develop the aircraft that had been used as a prototype.