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Close on the heels of Rustom-II, India’s indigenously developed long-endurance combat-capable drone successfully completing its maiden-flight, DRDO on Sunday decided to produce 10 such unmanned aircraft for induction into the Indian armed forces in the future.
“We have decided to produce 10 pilot less or unmanned aircraft like Rustom-II, aimed at giving a boost to India’s development programme for UAV,” DRDO Director S Christopher told reporters in Bengaluru. He said, “Young DRDO engineers would work hard to make it successful. It would, at least, take one year to do it. We will also seek to get an order from Indian armed forces.”
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Christopher said development of nine prototypes of the advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) would be done after the successful flight of the first such drone. “The first flight will be followed by development of nine more prototypes of the advanced UAV for testing, after which the certification process will start,” he said. Christopher clarified that TAPAS-BH-201 (Tactical Advanced Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201) will be in a non-combat role.
“Media reports are incorrect. Tapas is an UAV and not UCAV,” he said. He exuded confidence in going forward with the indigenous UAV on the lines of LCA Tajas which had proved its ability and is ready to be deployed in the armed forces, both in Air Force and Navy. On the test flight of Rustom-2, rechristened as Tapas 201, Christopher said the UAV had met the initial expectations and the Rs 1,500 crore programme was on line.
On updates on indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas which is now inducted into armed forces, he said DRDO desires to take the total orders to 123 after meeting the placement of an additional 83 aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The 83 aircraft will see improvements made in avionics and weaponry capability and this include the next version of LCA Mk2.
While the first 20 LCAs for IAF will go as per the initial operational configuration, all efforts are being made to incorporate other changes mandated for the final operational clearance for the second 20 aircraft.
DRDO is in talks with private firm Snecma, which is ready to help Kaveri programme revive under the offset clause, company Director General (Aero), C P Ramnarayanan said, adding funds to the extent of Rs 2,105 crore has already been spent on this aero engine programme but with little success. The latest plan to revive it with Snecma’s help will see another Rs 500 crore or more being spent.