DRDO Rustom-Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Rustom is a medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation for the Indian Armed Forces:Indian Army,Indian Navy and Indian Air Force.Rustom is developed from NAL’s LCRA(light Canard Research Aircraft) and the team that made Rustom is work under the leadership of late prof Rustom B Damania in the 1980s that is why the UCAV got its name.
The UAV Rustom that is derived from Nal’s LCRA will have structural changes and new engine.It will replace the Heron UAVs in the service with the Indian Armed forces.The Rustom made with the objective to work in the Indian Armed forces as Remote Controlled Unmanned Aerial vehicle(UAV) and it can be deployed in various types of military and special operations applications which includes reconnaissance operations,border patrol missions,forest fire detection,surveillance,coordinating humanitarian aid,search & rescue missions,detection of illegal hunting,land surveying,fire and large-accident investigation,landslide measurement,illegal landfill detection,and crowd monitoring.Basically it will use in that areas where manned missions are difficult to engage.
The Rustom is expected to see three distinct variants as the “Rustom-I Male UAV (Prototype Flight testing)”,The high Altitudes “Rustom-H HALE UAV (under development)” and the armed “Rustom-2 UCAV (under development)”.
Design and Development Phase of Rustom
DRDO intents to move away traditional ways of developing products whereby under DRDo,Like Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE),which is involved in this project,develop and finalise the product and transfer technology to a production agency.
The Indian Government has allowed he development of the Rustom MALE UAV project in association with a production agency cum development partner (PADP).For this four vendors are selected Tatas,Larsen and Turbo,Godrej and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-Bharat electronics (join bid).Currently negotiations are under way betwwen these companies and the Indian Armed Forces and these companies before executing development and production looking for the commitment and support form Indian government due to financial stake in the Rustom project.Indian Government may have guarantee that a specific number of Rustom UAVs will be bought.
Key Features of Advanced Technologies and Systems (RUSTOM)
- Aerodynamic configurations, High aspect ratio wing, Composite airframe integrated with propulsion system, De-icing system for wings
- Highly reliable systems with built-in redundancy for flight critical systems like flight control and navigation, data links, power management, – and mission critical payload management system
- Digital Flight Control and Navigation System, Automatic Take off and Landing (ATOL)
- Digital communication technologies for realising data links to control and operate the mission and relay UAVs
- Payloads with high resolution and precision stabilised platforms.
RUSTOM-I (Tactical UAV with endurance of 12 Hours)
The Rustom-I is based on NAL’s LCRA which bears an weird resemblance to Ruton Long-EZ design by Burt Ruton.It will be launched by the conventional method and not the launcher as in the case of DRDO Lakshya.Rustom-I has a wingspan of 7.9 m and length of 5.12 m with height of 2.40 m.It is powered by 1x Lycoming O-320 Four-cylinder air-cooled horizontally opposed engine that is capable of producing 112 kw of thrust.It supports a three-legged,fixed undercarriage,rear-mounted main wing appendages and a canard wing assembly at front.Vertical fins are set at the main wing tips.The power plant is contained in the aft section of the fuselage driving a two-bladed propeller in a “Pusher” configuration.Avionics and mission equipments are housed with the forward section of the fuselage.
Rustom can take with it various number of cameras and other devices for surveillance and for their other operations as the payload capacity if 95 kg.The empty weight of Rutom-I is 720 kg and it can fly with the maximum speed of 225km/h. Rustom will be able to see the enemy territory up to a distance of 250 km. Rustom will be able to see the enemy territory up to a distance of 250 km and range of its relay communication is 350 km.It has ferry range of 350 km with service ceiling of 8000m.
The first flight of Rustom-I UAV took place on 16-Nov-2009 at Taneja Aerospace Air Field near Hosur but it resulted in crashing to the ground due to misjudgement of altitude of flight,the on-board was switched off through ground command.Beside this crash the Rustom-I proved its capabilities and second maiden flight took place on 15-October-2010.Then after till Now 14 successful Flight take place.
Rustom-H(larger UAV with flight endurance of over 24 hours)
Rustom-H built on completely different design than Rustom-I.It is a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance(MALE) Unamanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE UAV) basically a twin engine system specially designed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions with more payload and with more range.
As the Rustom-H has completely different configuration than Rustom-I prototype as it supports a mid-set,straight main wing appendages,a bulbous nose section,a retractable,three-legged undercarriage and a tapering empennage.The tail unit of a conventional “T” shape with its high-mounted horizontal tailplane.As design to carry more cameras devices or radar for various operations it has payload capacity of 350 kg with the empty weight of 1800 kg while power is served through 2x NPO-Saturn 36Mt series turboprop engines fitted under the wings in nacelles and capable of developing 73.55 kw of power each while driving three bladed propeller.
The maximum speed of Rustom-H is same of Rustom-I that is 225km/h but has a range of 1000km with the capable of seeing the enemy territory from far as 250 km of distance .The Rustom-H will operated at the altitudes at 35,000 feet.
Rustom-2 (Unmanned combat air vehicle based on Rustom-H model)
Rutom-2 is the Unamanned Comabat Air-vehicle (UCAV) developed by DRDO. It is often compared with American Predator drones by Indian scientists and media.It is based on Rustom-H model.Generally it is made with purpose to convert a robust surveillance drone Rustom-H into a combat drone Rustom-2 which will have great deal of mission flexibility.It will basically be the armed version of Rustom-H or the Armed combat UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air-vehicle).