ADE is developing the Rustom-2 (earlier referred to as Rustom-H) MALE UAV as a replacement for Israeli Heron UAVs currently in service.
A proposal by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) to develop a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV at a cost of Rs.1,540 crore was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) early in March, 2011.
Of the total amount sanctioned, ADE will spend Rs.1,156 crore to build 15 UAVs, and Rs.384 crore to set up a dedicated aeronautical test range (ATR) at Chitradurga, 200km from Bangalore.
Rustom-2 will be developed within three years, based on the Rustom-1 UAV first tested by ADE in early 2011.
It will be presented for user evaluation within five-and-a-half years as a replacement for the Israeli supplied Heron UAVs.
The Rustom 2 will represent a break through in UAV technology available with DRDO.
A UAV designed to monitor a battlefield from medium altitudes needs a more capable and heavier sensor array than the one fitted on a low altitude Searcher class UAV. Also, to fly continuously over a battlefield for 35 hrs (Rustom 2's endurance) the UAV needs to carry a lot of fuel. As a result, a MALE is almost as large as a small manned aircraft.
The problem is, a large unmanned aircraft is difficult to pilot from the ground during take-off and landing, so a MALE UAV must have the ability to take-off and land autonomously.
DRDO developed an autonomous take-off and landing system with the Rustom 1, using a proven aerodynamic design of a manned aircraft.
The Rustom 1 is an unmanned version of NAL's LCRA (Light Canard Research Aircraft). ADE removed the pilot's seat and made the required electrical, mechanical and aerodynamic modifications.
(The LCRA was based on Rutan Long-EZ a homebuilt ac designed by Burt Rutan's Rutan Aircraft Factory. The aircraft is freely available in kit form.)
DRDO used the autonomous take-off and landing capability developed for the Rustom 1 on the Rustom 2, a twin engined aircraft optimized for medium altitude, long endurance operations.
The Rustom 2 will feature satellite based communication, allowing it to be controlled through a relaying satellite.
CMD LINK (LOS & SATCOM) 9.6 Kbp + Voice (Antijam & Secure)
LOS DOWNLINK 16 Mbps
LOS LINK RANGE 250 Km
LOS Tracking AZ Monopulse, EL Manual/Steering
SATCOM DOWNLINK 2 Mbps
SATCOM LINK STABILIZATION INS/GPS based
SATCOM LINK RANGE Based on Satcom Footprint
SHIPBORNE LINK RANGE 120 Km
LOS Communication Link
SATCOM Communication Link
SHIPBORNE Communication Link
Preliminary Design Reviews and most of the Critical Design Reviews have been completed. Its first flight is likely to be commenced during mid-2014. [via PIB]
First flight of Rustom-2 is scheduled in February 2014. [via PIB]
Speaking during a seminar before Aero India 2013, Dr. P Srikumar, Associate Director & Program Director ADE said that the Rustom-2 will be ready to fly shortly.
The model of Rustom-H displayed at Aero India 2011 showed the UAV with two turbo prop engines.
In May 2011, AW&ST reported that the Rustom-H will be powered by an NPO-Saturn 36MT turbofan.
There have been some minor changes in the specs. For example, service ceiling is now displayed as 32,000 ft aganist 35,000 ft claimed earlier.
During Aero India 2011, the DRDO claimed the following capabilities for the Rustom-H.
It is being designed to operate at 30,000 with 24 hours endurance and will be used for surveillance and target tracking.
It will have a service ceiling of 35,000 ft, operating radius of 250 km using line of sight communication, 350 km using relay communication, and a range of 1,000 km.
Max speed will be 225 kph
It will feature Automated Take Off and Landing (ATOL) using an external pilot, and a payload of 350 kg comprising long range electro-optics, synthetic aperture radar, maritime patrol radar, electronic and communication intelligence payload, radar warning receiver and a traffic collision avoidance system.
In May 2011, AW&ST reported that Rustom-H will have 12-15-hr. of endurance and carries payloads of 75 kg to 25,000 ft.
On July 6, 2012, a DRDO presentation slide leaked to the the press indicated that the Rustom-2 will have a strike capability.
It will loiter autonomously at high altitudes performing ISR with its SAR nd EO sensors. When a target is identified, it will either illuminate the target with a laser designator for other strike aircraft, or descend to lower altitude and attack the target with its own air-to-surface missiles.
It was earlier reported that DRDO is looking at the feasibility of integrating the Helina air-launched derivative of the Nag anti-tank missile with Rustom-2
According to ADE director P.S. Krishnan, "This UAV will bring in the new technology of de-icing to India, for which we are in talks with firms in Germany, Europe and Israel.”
“The ATOL feature, certification requirements, developing indigenous payload and de-icing are challenges to this project,” Krishnan says.