DRDO Lakshya Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA),Indian Armed Forces
LAKSHA is a Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA).It is a reusable aerial target system or an Indian Remotely piloted high speed target drone system developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO for Indian Armed Forces.
A total of 23 Lakshya units are currently in service with Indian Armed Forces with the unit cost US $ 440,000 .A Variant Reconnaissance version of Lakshya is being built named as Lakshya-I.It will be fitted with electro-optic cameras,digital onboard computers and Satcom Datalink to carry out autonomous operations.
On 23 August 2012, Air Force version of Lakshya-1 fitted with an advanced digitally controlled engine was test-flown to check the validity of its engine and duration enhancement. The drone flew over 30 minutes
Design of DRDO Lakshya Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA),Indian Armed Forces
The Drone is controlled by a ground station that provides realistic towed aerial sub-targets for live fire training.The drone is ground or ship launched from a Zero length Launcher and recovery is b a two-stage parachute system developed by ADE (DRDO),for land or sea based recovery.The crushable nose cone of the drone is capable to absorb any type of impact at the time of landing and minimise the damage.
The drone takes its first flight in 1985 and introduced in Indian Armed forces in 9 November 2000.The flight path of Lakshya is pre-programmed based upon the type of mission for which it is used.It is designed to be reused for 15 missions and destroy airborne incoming enemy targets.
The development of Lakshya Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) was proposed in 1976.ADE conducted the feasibility study of the PTA to meet the demands of the Indian Armed Forces.
The Indian Ministry of Defence devised an inter service qualitative requirement (ISQR) common to all three forces, including the Indian Air Force (IAF), Indian Navy and Indian Army in January 1977.
The Indian government approved $3.8m to ADE in September 1980 to design and manufacture the Lakshya. It also sanctioned $1m to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in September 1980 to build an indigenous turbojet engine (PTAE-7) for the PTA.
The maiden flight of the Lakshya took place in 1985. Four Lakshya prototypes incorporated with microturbo TRI-60-5 engines were rolled out between December 1985 and July 1986 for flight trials. The first two trials were successful but the remaining two failed.
Of 18 PTA prototypes produced by ADE by June 1994, ten were lost in testing phases during 1985-1990. The development of Lakshya was officially completed in June 1994 at a cost of $4.9m.
The first trial of the PTAE-7 engine was successful in January 2001. ADE piloted the modern version of the Lakshya fitted with PTAE-7 engine from ITR, Chandipur, in May 2002.The development of an advanced reconnaissance version of Lakshya was officially unveiled in July 2003. Flight trials of the version were held in April 2003.
Features ,Avionics and Armaments
The Lakshya features a crushable nose cone that is always absorb any type of impact,air target imitator.infra-red sensor ans synthetic aperture radar.It is also integrated with a target towing unit under wing pylons to train crews of anti-aircraft guns and missiles.
A JATO rocket booster weighing 145 kg is installed to enable smooth take-off.The aircraft is 2.38 long with the wingspan of 5m.The wings have the area of 2.27 m2 with the special NACA 64 A 008 airfoil shape.
The Aircraft is equipped with modern avionics suite which includes flight control electronics (FCE),electro-mechanical actuators,vertical gyro,acoustic miss distance indicator (AMDI) and CW doppler.The AMDI measures the miss distance of projectiles and assesses performance and proficiency of the artillery crew.
Engine and Performance
The Lakshya PTA is poweed by a single PTAE-7 turbojet engine which is capable of producing 3.7 kn of thrust.The engine is designed and manufactured by HAL in Bangalore. . It features a four stage transonic axial flow compressor, single stage turbine, an annular flow combustion chamber, digital electronic fuel control system and 16 fuel flow burners.
The length and diameter of the engine are 1.27m and 0.33m respectively. The dry weight is 65kg.The aircraft has maximum speed of MACH 0.7 with the operational range of 150 km .It can climb at the rate of 25m/s and has service ceiling of 9000 m and 5000 m with towed target.
Ground Station Control unit
Ground Control Station (GCS) is the controlled centre of PTA Lakshya.At GCS ,hardware and softwares are pre-programmed for specific mission to operate the aircraft.Each GCS can capable to operate five drones simultaneously.
The GCS and telemetry station operates the vehicle and aids in real data acquisition. It renders mission planning and simulator facilities to plan, validate and execute the vehicle’s missions.The commands can be transmitted from the GCS to the vehicle by telecommand system at UHF or L-band frequency.
Current Status and Advanced/Latest version of PTA
The Advances version of Pilotless target aircraft (PTA) is Lakshya-II.It was successfully flight-tested at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) on 27 January 2012.Lakshya-II flew at sea skimming height of about 15 metres with the flight duration of 30 minutes. Lakshya-II has been designed and developed by Bangalore- based Aeronautical Development Establishment, a premier DRDO lab specialising in UAVs and flight control systems.
It was made to dive down from an altitude of around 800 m to just 12 m and maintained the requisite altitude for the specified time before demonstrating auto climb-out. It demonstrated various technologies and sub-systems to prevent loss of mission, engaging and flying in way point navigation mode while carrying tow targets. During the flight, one of the tow targets was released and the other was deployed while way point navigation was on.
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