DRDO Nishant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV),Indian Armed Forces
The DRDO Nishant is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) developed by India’s ADE (Aeronautical Development Establishment), a branch of DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) for the Indian Armed Forces.
The Nishant UAV is primarily tasked with intelligence gathering over enemy territory and also for reconnaissance, training, surveillance, target designation, artillery fire correction, damage assessment, ELINT and SIGINT.
Nishant is one of the few UAVs in the world in its weight-class capable of being catapult-launched and recovered by using parachute, thus eliminating the need for a runway as in case of conventional take-off and landing with wheels.
The keel was laid down in September 1988 when DRDO would take the decision for indigenous development of UAV by seeing the requirement of ARMY for the remotely piloted vehicle.The Nishant RPV made its first test flight in 1995. In July 1999, for the first time the Indian army deployed its new Nishant UAV system in the fight against guerilla forces backed by Pakistan in Kashmir.
Nishant Unmanned Aerial vehicle (UAV) was successfully flight tested near Kolar on 20 June 2008. Nishant has completed development phase and user trials. The Indian Army has placed an order for 12 Nishant UAVs along with ground support systems.
Design and Features
The Nishant makes use of a conventional aircraft arrangement and follows well-accepted UAV design Form-particularly for low-altitude operations requiring extended loitering times and stability for its on board optics payload.It features a central nacelle making up its fuselage which contains avionics and payload as well as power plant and fuel stores.Wings are straight appendages mounted high atop the fuselage.
The tail consists of a twin-boom structure joined at the rear by a single horizontal plane,outboard this plane are vertical tail fins.Optics are held in a positional blister assembly located along the belly.
The UAV has a length of 4.63 m ,wingspan of 6.57 m and carry a payload of 45 kg.The UAV can be used in battle field as for reconnaissance & surveillance purpose and it has a capability to perform operations in night also.
The Nishant UAV also features Target tracking and localization,Artillery fire correction and Target designation (using integral laser target designator).The vehicle has all terrain mobility and has endurance of 4 hr 30 min.
Ground Support Systems and Launch Platform
The 380 kg (840 lb) Nishant UAV requires rail-launching from a hydro-pneumatic launcher and is able to be recovered by a parachute system. The Mobile Hydro-Pneumatic Launcher (MHPL) system mounted on a Tatra truck weighs 14,000 kg (31,000 lb) and boasts of a life cycle of 1000 launches before requiring overhaul.The truck serves in other militarized forms and is a proven battlefield component,providing the Nishant with essentially all-terrain accessibility.
The complete Nishant Package includes a Ground Control Station (GCS), Antenna vehicle/Ground Data Terminal(GDT), Avionics preparation vehicle(APV), Mechanical maintenance vehicle, UAV transportation vehicle,Power Supply vehicle,Specially trained operators and applicable carriers of equipment to ensure proper operation of the UAV.
Engine and Performance
The Nishant UAV is powered by 1 x RE-2-21-P or RE-4-37-P engine that drives a two-bladed propeller in a “pusher” arrangement at the rear of the aircraft.The Nishant has maximum takeoff weight of 275 kg.
The UAV launches at the velocity of 45 m/s in the time interval of 0.6 second with the powerful 100kW engine.The UAV has maximum speed of 185 km/h and cruise speed of 125 km/h to 150 km/h.The vehicle has range of 160 km and service ceiling of 3600 m.
DRDO Planning to Integrate Indigenous Engine in Nishant
DRDO plans to integrate Indigenous Wankel engine in the Nishant.DRDO launched a test flight on 5 April 2009 with this Engine integrated and it becomes successful with the flight duration of 35 minutes. The air vehicle was recovered safely at the intended place at a dried-up lake.DRDO was satisfied with the test results. The performance of the engine during the flight met the requirements of the first flight of an engine in the air vehicle.
The Engine has critical core, including the special cylinder composite nickel–silicon carbide coating and special aluminium alloy castings, was designed and developed by NAL. Wankel engine weighs about 30 kg (70 lb), and this engine type is known for its high power-to-weight ratio in a single rotor category. This 55 hp indigenous engine is expected to replace the present imported engine of Nishant.
Variant of Nishant UAV
The first variant is Nishant UAV with catapult launching platform.The second variant is a wheeled version of the Nishant UAV, named panchi.It is under taxi trail as of September 2014 and will be flight tested soon. UAV is capable of operating from semi-prepared runway, thereby reducing the turnaround time between missions, which is major advantage over the current catapult launched Nishant.
Check out the Launching Video of DRDO Nishant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV),Indian Armed Forces