Bangalore: India will soon embark on developing an indigenous unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) for surveillance, detection and destroying specific targets, a top defence official said on Wednesday.
"We will soon embark on designing and developing an unmanned combat aerial vehicle, which will not only do surveillance, but will also help detect the target and destroy the identified object," V K Saraswat, scientific advisor to Defence Minister A K Antony, told reporters.
An UCAV or 'combat drone' differs from ordinary UAVs as it is designed to deliver weapons.
The pilotless vehicle can carry greater payloads and have wide range and manoeuvrability in the absence of a cockpit and associated equipment.
The ambitious project will be taken up by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Bangalore with private industry participation.
"The controls of a combat drone will be rested with multiple command control centres. The centres can be geographically at different locations. Even if one centre becomes defunct, the drone can be controlled and guided by other centres," Saraswat, who recently took over as director general of the DRDO, said on the margins of a conference.
"The UCAV will work in a multi-layer manner for which ADE is developing the required technology, including sensors," Saraswat said after inaugurating the fifth national conference on 'NextGen IT for Indian Defence'.
The ADE is already developing a medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) codenamed Rustom for the three Indian defence services - army, air force and navy.
The MALE UAV is still in the experimental stage.
The first trial of the prototype, developed by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation Ltd, resulted in a crash Nov 16 near Hosur in Krishnagiri district of western Tamil Nadu, about 40 km from here.
The Rustum UAV, with a wingspan of 20 metres and weighing 1,800 kg, has a maximum speed of 225 km per hour and can operate at an altitude of 30,000 feet.
"The Rustom UAV will be able to execute surveillance of the enemy territory up to a distance of 250km and carry a variety of cameras and radar for surveillance," Saraswat said.
The remote-controlled UAV took off from a private airstrip at Belagondapalli village on the outskirts of Bangalore. After hovering over the Taneja private airstrip for a few minutes, it lost direction and crashed onto an adjacent coconut farm, an ADE official said.
"The aerial vehicle was test-flown for research. The remote control device developed a snag and that led to the crash," the official added.