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DRDO to continue with Tapas drone project, to expand its capabilities to operate above 30,000 ft

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The DRDO is continuing with its project to further develop the Tapas medium-altitude, long endurance (MALE) drone in which one of the three services has shown interest to use them around the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for operations.

The Tapas drones being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment Laboratory have not been able to fully meet the Joint Services Qualitative Requirements of flying at 30,000 feet for over 24 hours at a stretch and have been excluded from the category of mission mode projects.

“One of the defence forces has shown interest in using the Tapas drones for operations in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where it can be used for surveillance and reconnaissance,” sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation said.

The Tapas drones have been tested by the defence forces and during the trials, it managed to reach 28,000 feet altitude and could fly for over 18 hours, they said.

In one of the trials, the drone was also operated by Indian Navy officials over the Arabian Sea for a few hours after it flew from an airfield in Chitradurga, Karnataka.

The sources said that the runway length required for the Tapas drone to take off is not very long and can be used from some of the small airfields in the island territories.DRDO officials said the laboratory concerned would be working on improving designs and increasing the power in the drone to make it more suitable for service requirements of altitude and endurance, which it was not able to meet in the recent evaluations.The premier defence research agency led by Dr Samir V Kamat has been working on major drone projects, including unmanned combat aerial vehicles like Ghatak and other projects like Archer.

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