Rustom-II MALE UAV is the latest addition to the Rustom series of UAVs, which also include Rustom-I, Rustom-H and Rustom-C. It is intended for use by the Indian Armed Forces including army, navy and air force in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted the first flight of a prototype of Rustom-II (Tapas 201) medium-altitude, long-endurance from Chitradurga Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Karnataka, India, in November.
The Rustom-II is based on Rustom-H unmanned combat aerial vehicle and features lightweight airframe. It has a length of 9.5m and an empty weight of 1,800kg. It is equipped with mid-set, high aspect ratio wings spanning 20.6m. The tail section is configured with a conventional T-type vertical stabiliser with a high-mounted horizontal tail plane.
The drone is designed to carry a variety of state-of-the-art payloads weighing up to 350kg to provide multi-mission capabilities in both day and night lighting conditions. The payloads include electromagnetic intelligence (ELINT), communication intelligence (COMINT), synthetic aperture radar (SAR), maritime patrol radar (MPR), radio altimeter, transmitting and receiving antennae, and situational awareness payloads.
The Rustom-II incorporates a data link developed by Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (DEAL) of DRDO, to transmit the ISR data, imagery and video collected by the payloads to its ground control station in real time. It can fly in either autonomous or manual modes. An onboard flight control system allows executing missions autonomously using waypoint navigation.
Power comes from two NPO Saturn 36MT turboprop engines fitted under the wings. Each engine generates a thrust of 450 kilogram-forces and is mated to a three-blade propeller to provide increased manoeuvrability. The drone can fly at a maximum speed of 225km/h and endure for up to 24 hours. It has the ability to operate at line of sight ranges of 250km and the maximum flight altitude above the mean sea level is 10Km.
With the development of the Ruston-II, India expects to serve to its needs at long endurance ISR task especially due to its extensive land and sea borders.