HomeAatmanirbhar BharatADA now shifts focus to HALE class UAV after Archer SRUAV-W, TAPAS...

ADA now shifts focus to HALE class UAV after Archer SRUAV-W, TAPAS BH-201 MALE UAV and Archer-NG MALE UAV

Source : Indian Defence Analysis


ADA now shifts focus to HALE class UAV after Archer SRUAV-W, TAPAS BH-201 MALE UAV and Archer-NG MALE UAV
American MQ-9 Predator High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class UAV

The UAVs are the technological disruptors because they are comparatively cheap, can operate for long hours and provide the surveillance over the terrains which are inaccessible. UAVs have been weaponized with large stand-off range proving very effective against infantry and armored vehicles.

If we look at the India’s drone development program – the Rustom has been a technology incubator for various tech, required for long endurance UAVs such as auto take-off & landing, SATCOM based navigation to name a few. The result of this is three spin-off program: Tapas, Archer & Archer-NG.

Tapas has already proven its endurance and surveillance capability which we witnessed live during Aero India show where it was relaying live video non-stop. The RPA is able to operate at altitudes of up to 28000 feet, with an endurance of 18 plus hours. It has 2 hard points where it can carry 2X 60 kg of payloads.


Tapas BH 201 and SWIFT UAV 1%20(1)
TAPAS BH-201 Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV

Archer NG is a new design but will use the technology developed as a part of Rustom program. It is going to be a Single Engine Twin Boom (SETB) UAV with LoS range of 250 km and BLoS of 1000 km. It can operate upto an altitude of 30,000ft with an endurance of 18+ hours. Archer NG will have 4 hard points where it can carry 300 kg of weapons payload.


Archer-NG (Next Generation) MALE UAV

Short-Range Weaponized UAV (SR-UAV) is DRDO’s rebranded the Archer UAV. Besides performing ISR missions, the UAV will have light attack capability with 2 hard points where it could carry two missiles. The UAV will be able to operate at an altitude of 22,000 ft with an endurance of 12 hours and range of 250 kms.


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Archer Short Range UAV – Weaponised (SRUAV-W)

Tapas, Archer and Archer NG are Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV and are in the final leg of their development. However, the area which DRDO is now trying to venture into is the HALE i.e., High Altitude long Endurance UAV such as MQ-9 RPAs, which can operate at an altitude in excess of 35,000 ft and have greater endurance and speed.

Why India needs HALE UAVs?

The need of HALE UAV can be understood from the fact that the 2 MQ-9 RPAs leased by Indian Navy has completed 10,000 flight hours in just 2 years. This capability cannot be matched by a manned aircraft and even if a maned aircraft is pushed to that limit, its operational cost is going to be very high. India is still working on taking the MQ-9 acquisition deal to its final stage. The initial plan of acquiring 30 MQ-9 RPAs for $3 Billion has been reported to be pruned to 18. However, their acquisition from US burn a big hole in the capital expenditure of Indian Armed forces and it does not create a significant know-how of the tech. The ToT is the frequent term now a days getting attached to many defence deal but their effectiveness is still a question mark.

Further 18 HALE UAVs are not going to suffice the requirement of Tri-services considering the size of the Indian geography. It is the right time when DRDO extends the learning from the Rustom program towards HALE UAV development.

DRDO’s HALE UAV

DRDO in partnership with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is developing a High altitude Long Endurance(HALE) UAV. ADE of DRDO along with HAL has completed the joint feasibility study of HALE class UAV as per user requirements. The HALE UAV is being designed for the ISTAR(Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition & Reconnaissance and Targeting capabilities).


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DRDO and ADA designed High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class UAV

As per the feasibility study conducted, the UAV is going to be powered by a turboprop engine capable of generating power of 940 hp. The UAV will have a range of 1000 km and flight altitude in excess of 35,000 ft. The UAV will have an endurance greater than 25 hours and speed of 390 kmph. It will have All-Up Weight(AUW) between 4200-5200 kg with payload capacity of 2,000 kg.

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