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Drone systems add sheen to aero show

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DRDO's UAVs on display at Aero India 2011. A BNS photo

BANGALORE (BNS): Fighter jets, giant transport aircraft and commercial planes – while Aero India 2011 is all about the real metal birds either on static display or flying high in sky, the ‘quiet’ presence of a wide-range of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) systems has also added sheen to the show.

Both domestic as well as international companies have exhibited the models of an array of UAVs during the premier aviation exhibition.

While DRDO has displayed its Nishant UAV four of which were inducted in the Indian Army earlier this month, the Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Rustom-I UAV has also been featured at the show.

Designed and developed by DRDO's Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Nishant’s role includes battle-field reconnaissance in day and night, surveillance, target tracking and correction of artillery fire. The drone can be used both during wartime as well as for anti-insurgency operations.

The Rustom, which will be “a large drone with weapon delivering capability” as described by DRDO chief V K Saraswat during the aero show – is being designed for the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. The new unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) is slated to supplement/replace the Israel-made Heron UAVs.

“DRDO is identifying new technological areas to design and develop indigenous drone systems for the Indian armed forces and catch up with the world market,” the defence agency’s officials said during the international event, while adding that UCAVs and next-gen UAVs were some of the major programmes they were working on.

From the international market, Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk along with the Fire Scout has made its appearance at the show. The high altitude long endurance (HALE) Global Hawk spy drone, capable of flying at altitudes of 60,000 feet for over 32 hours uninterruptedly, is operational in the US Air Force and Navy.

The Fire Scout, a vertical take-off and landing UAV helicopter used by the US armed forces, has been designed for reconnaissance, situational awareness, and precision targeting support.

Israel’s Elbit Systems has featured its Skylark II drones. The close-range tactical small UAV is capable of carrying intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance operations. Also from Israel’s Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd is the Orbiter mini UAV which has been designed for use in military and homeland security missions.

French defence company Safran too has exhibited its Patroller drone. The medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone system, is undergoing flight testing.

With their low cost along with the capability to conduct a wide range of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, drone systems are steadily making their way into the militaries of several countries across the world.


Aero India  UAV  DRDO  Northrop  
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