India Invests Heavily In UAV Technologies

India’s armed forces are set to become high­ly reliant on unmanned aer­i­al sys­tems by 2030, accord­ing to a sci­en­tist with the country’s Defence Research and Devel­op­ment (DRDO).

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‘By 2030, the per­cent­age of the manned fleet will have been reduced sig­nif­i­cant­ly,’ said Dr Vijay Kumar Saraswat, sci­en­tif­ic advi­sor and sec­re­tary of the DRDO, speak­ing at the Aero­space Forum Swe­den being held at Mal­men AB, near Linkop­ing on 31 May.

‘But it depends very much on how smart and intel­li­gent we can make these [unmanned] sys­tems,’ added Saraswat.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, Saraswat high­light­ed a large num­ber of the tech­nolo­gies cur­rent­ly being devel­oped by the DRDO.

Cur­rent­ly the organ­i­sa­tion is fly­ing the Nis­hant UAV, a cat­a­pult launched, para­chute recov­ered low-alti­tude sur­veil­lance sys­tem, as well as the Rus­tom 1 MALE sys­tem. Now the DRDO is work­ing on the Rus­tom 2, this air­craft will have a 5km alti­tude and an endurance of 24 hours.

As well as its numer­ous pro­grammes sur­round­ing manned air­craft, the DRDO is work­ing on UAV tech­nolo­gies required for the chal­leng­ing UAV require­ments demand­ed by the Indi­an armed forces includ­ing high endurance and loi­ter capa­bil­i­ties, icing and de-icing, sense and avoid and the abil­i­ty to take-off from run­ways at 11,000 ft.

Aero-struc­tures tech­nol­o­gy is also receiv­ing atten­tion such as bio-mimet­ic mate­ri­als for nano air vehi­cles as well as mate­ri­als that will self-heal or allow changes in shape in flight.

Among the require­ments for the Indi­an forces is a ‘bomber UAV’ and a ‘fight­er UAV.’ In the pre­sen­ta­tion shown by Saraswat was a fly­ing-wing dubbed the Inde­pen­dent Unmanned Sur­veil­lance Air Vehi­cle (IUSAV), which fea­tured a design sim­i­lar to the X‑45 and X‑47 cur­rent­ly under test in the US.

The IUSAV is like­ly to use some of the low-observ­able tech­niques cur­rent­ly under devel­op­ment by the DRDO for its Advanced Medi­um Com­bat Air­craft (AMCA) and the country’s fifth-gen­er­a­tion fight­er pro­gramme in devel­op­ment in con­junc­tion with Rus­sia.

These tech­nolo­gies include radar absorbent paints, con­for­mal anten­nas, low engine exhaust tem­per­a­tures and ser­pen­tine ducts for air­flow into the engine, planned to be a deriv­a­tive of the Kaveri engine cur­rent­ly under test for the Light Com­bat Air­craft. The IUSUV is like­ly to enter ser­vice over in 10 to 15 years’ time.

The IUSAV would also serve along­side a solar-pow­ered HALE plat­form for sur­veil­lance.


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