India's first advanced UAV for strategic reconnaissance and surveillance will make its public debut soon. By June or July, a second homegrown weaponized drone is also expected to do its first flight test.
The aerial and static displays of several aircraft during the Aero-India event in Bengaluru will be live streamed by the Tapas-BH (tactical aerial platform for advanced surveillance-beyond horizon) drone, built by the DRDO with over 180 flights tallied to date.
“Tapas-BH will showcase its capabilities, which includes operating at altitudes up to 28,000-feet with an endurance of over 18 hours. The medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) is DRDO’s solution for ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance) requirements of the Army, IAF and Navy,” a defence ministry official said.
According to reports, the smart anti-airfield weapon (SAAW) and anti-tank guided missile-capable Archer-NG (next generation) armed drone would undergo its first flight test between June and July.
“The UAV, also capable of night-flying, is now getting ready for formal user-trial evaluation by the armed forces. It can thereafter go for production in large numbers by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Electronics and others,” a source said. The operational utility of drones and AI-enabled drone swarms has been driven home by recent conflicts ranging from Armenia Azerbaijan to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine one.
However, India has fallen far behind other nations in the development of cutting-edge UAVs and has had to resort to acquiring huge quantities of Heron and Searcher-II drones from Israel over the years. Additionally, the US company General Atomics is leasing two unarmed MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones to the Navy.