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Strategic Weapons : UAV Rustom-1

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The “Rustom 13  UAV being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO lab engaged in pioneering R&D work in the field of aeronautics, has recently underwent it’s second successful flight test. The test flight took place at a general aviation airfield operated by Taneja Aerospace in Hosur near Bengaluru. With the successful accurate flying of Rustom 1, now the ADE is geared up for integration of payloads with the aircraft within next three months, to demonstrate performance of payloads and necessary secure data-link to the users. It is here mentioned that the first test flight of the Rustom was conducted from Hosur in November 2009, but ended when the air vehicle crashed following a “misjudgement of altitude”.The Rustom 1 has a planned endurance of 12-15h; it can carry payloads of up to 75kg (165lb) and has a maximum ceiling of 25,000ft (7,620m). The UAV’s datalink is designed and developed by India’s Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory, while its airframe and most of its electronics are produced by Indian companies.

Understanding Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs):

(a) What Is a UAV?UAV, means aerial vehicles which operate without a human pilot. UAVs are commonly used in both the military and police forces in situations where the risk of sending a human piloted aircraft is unacceptable, or the situation makes using a manned aircraft impractical. One of the predecessors of today’s fully autonomous UAVs were the “aerial torpedoes”, designed and built during World War One. These were primitive UAVs, relying on mechanical gyroscopes to maintain straight and level flight, and flying until they ran out of fuel. They would then fall from the sky and deliver and explosive payload. More advanced UAVs used radio technology for guidance, allowing them to fly missions and return. They were constantly controlled by a human pilot, and were not capable of flying themselves. After the invention of the integrated circuit, engineers were able to build sophisticated UAVs, using electronic autopilots. It was at this stage of development that UAVs became widely used in military applications. UAVs could be deployed, fly themselves to a target location, and either attack the location with weapons, or survey it with cameras and other sensor equipment. Modern UAVs are controlled with both autopilots, and human controllers in ground stations. This allows them to fly long, uneventfully flights under their own control, and fly under the command of a human pilot during complicated phases of the mission.
(b) Applications of UAVs: Since their creation, UAVs have found many uses in police, military, and in some cases, civil applications. Currently, UAVs are most often used for the following tasks:  (i) Aerial Reconnaissance – UAVs are often used to get aerial video of a remote location, especially where there would be unacceptable risk to the pilot of a manned aircraft. UAVs can be equipped with high resolution still, video, and even infrared cameras. The information obtained by the UAV can be streamed back to the control centre in real time. (ii) Scientific Research – In many cases, scientific research necessitates obtaining data from hazardous or remote locations. A good example is hurricane research, which often involves sending a large manned aircraft into the centre of the storm to obtain meteorological data. A UAV can be used to obtain this data, with no risk to a human pilot. (iii) Logistics and Transportation – UAVs can be used to carry and deliver a variety of payloads. Helicopter type UAVs are well suited to this purpose, because payloads can be suspended from the bottom of the airframe, with little aerodynamic penalty.