HAL step closer to develop rotary UAVs for military ops

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Bengaluru : Defence aviation PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd got a step closer to developing large rotary UAVs capable of carrying weapons when it successfully test flew here a two-stroke petrol engine, light weight helicopter that can fly 10 km with a 2.5-kg payload capability.

According to a statement, the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd recently demonstrated the flight of the rotary wing unmanned aerial vehicle (RUAV) here in the presence of its board of directors.

It is a two-stroke petrol engine, twin blade main rotor and tail rotor, has payload capability of 2.5 kg including live stream video camera with a 8-10 km range of the vehicle and an endurance of one hour.

The flight lasted about 10 minutes and cleared all aviation tests including on the attitude control, attitude hold (ACAH) mode, position control, position hold mode (autonomous hover), low speed flight in forward, backward and sideward directions.

The video feed from onboard the helicopter was streamed live and shown on the dedicated video receiver. The status of the helicopter, its parameters and its real-time position on the map were also shown, the statement said.

The vehicle was developed in association with IIT-Kanpur and is the first "outcome of HAL's tie-ups with academia".

To achieve self reliance in the aviation field and to enhance its R&D efforts, HAL is working closely with premier educational institutes and has established chairs at IITs in Madras, Roorkee, Kharagpur, Bombay and Kanpur and IISc Bengaluru.

"With this demo, HAL's Rotary Wing R&D Centre (RWR&DC) is well poised to employ its skills and capabilities to undertake development of rotary UAVs of higher weight classes and weapons as payloads. The success is the testimony of the industry-academia collaboration," said HAL chief T. Suvarna Raju.

The centre at HAL is involved in design and development of rotary wing platforms for military and civil operations.

Advance Light Helicopter in its different variants (ALH-Dhruv, ALH-Rudra, ALH Wheeled version) is one of its star products and in service with the Indian defence forces.

The Light Combat Helicopter is also designed and developed by this centre and is under production for the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force.

The centre has now partnered with IIT-Kanpur to embark upon design and development of a rotary unmanned air vehicle for defence and para-military forces and homeland security.

"These efforts led to successful development of control laws, a full authority flight controller, also known as fly by wire system for helicopters and other associated technologies like autonomous navigation system, ground control system," the statement said.