The air vehicle is launched using twin under-slung boosters which provide the initial acceleration to the vehicle

BHUBANESWAR: The DRDO successfully flight tested an indigenously developed high-speed expendable aerial target (HEAT) Abhyas from a defence facility off Odisha coast on Friday. The unmanned aerial vehicle was flown from the launching complex III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) and met the mission parameters. Once fully developed, the pilotless aircraft will replace target aircraft Lakshya and British drone Banshee.

The trial was conducted by the officials of Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). The aerial vehicle achieved the user requirement of 5 km flying altitude, 0.5 Mach speed, 30 minute endurance and turn capability. Designed and developed by ADE, a DRDO lab, it can be used as an aerial target for evaluation of various missile systems. The performance of the target aircraft was monitored through telemetry and various tracking sensors including radars and electro-optical tracking systems.

A defence official said the flight test was carried out as a part of developmental trials. Expression of interest for production of the drone has already been floated. It will meet the requirements of high speed expendable target for Indian Armed Forces, he said.

Abhyas was designed for autonomous flight with the help of an autopilot. The air vehicle is launched using twin under-slung boosters which provide the initial acceleration to the vehicle. “The target aircraft is equipped with micro-electromechanical-based inertial navigation system (INS) for navigation along with the flight control computer (FCC) for guidance and control. The vehicle is programmed for fully autonomous flight. The check-out of air vehicle is done using laptop-based ground control station,” the official informed.

What differentiates Abhyas from Lakshya is its wing position. The wings of the Abhyas are positioned on the upper-side of the aircraft whereas the Lakshya has under-body wings. However the wings and tail plane of the Abhyas have been derived from the Lakshya by downsizing them.

Secretary of Department of Defence R&D and DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy termed the target aircraft Abhyas as a force-multiplier considering its accuracy and effectiveness. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO for the successful flight trial of Abhyas.