Heralding a new era in the indigenous development of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), DRDO successfully carried out the maiden flight of TAPAS 201 (RUSTOM – II), a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV. The test flight took place from Aeronautical Test Range (ATR), Chitradurga, 250 km from Bangalore which is a newly developed flight test range for the testing of UAVs and manned aircraft.
The flight accomplished the main objectives of proving the flying platform, such as take-off, bank, level flight and landing etc.
TAPAS 201, the MALE UAV has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), the Bangalore-based premier lab of DRDO with HAL-BEL as the production partners. The UAV weighing two tonnes was put into air by a dedicated team of young scientists of DRDO. It was piloted (external and internal) by the pilots from the Armed Forces. It is also the first R&D prototype UAV which has undergone certification and qualification for the first flight from the Center for Military Airworthiness & Certification (CEMILAC) and Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA).
TAPAS 201, a multi-mission UAV is being developed to carry out the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) roles for the three Armed Forces with an endurance of 24 hours. It is capable to carry different combinations of payloads like 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 during day and night.
It is noteworthy that the development of UAV immensely contributes towards the Make-in-India initiative as many critical systems such as airframe, landing gear, flight control and avionics sub-systems are being developed in India with the collaboration of private industries. Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (DEAL) of DRDO has developed the data link for the UAV. Rustom- II will undergo further trials for validating the design parameters, before going for User Validation Trials.