TAPAS BH-201 is currently flying with an imported AUSTRO AE300 Diesel-Kerosene Engine

DRDO scientists are working with a Coimbatore-based private firm (reportedly Tech Mahindra) on an indigenous engine for TAPAS. The drone is currently powered by the Austria-made Austro engine, which comes with twin turbochargers. As of now, close to 75 per cent of the drone is India-made. DRDO scientists claim that, once inducted, TAPAS would be almost eight times cheaper than imported drones.

TAPAS-BH-201 (formerly referred to as RUSTOM-II), developed by the Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), recently achieved an altitude of 28,000ft and 18 hours of endurance. The agency, under the DRDO, began developing the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle a decade ago at a cost of Rs1,786 crore.

TAPAS has a good structural design, It is pre-designed to carry certain weapons and can be converted into an armed platform. TAPAS has a range of sensors that make it capable for day and night missions, and it also has autonomous take-off and landing capabilities.

TAPAS is equipped with enhanced aerodynamic configuration, digital flight control, navigation system, communication intelligence, medium and long-range electro-optic payloads and synthetic aperture radar that will enable it to see through the clouds. It is capable of carrying different combinations of payloads depending on the mission objectives including electronic intelligence systems and situational awareness systems. It has a satellite communication link to relay situation in the battle theatre on real time basis.

The drone can loiter autonomously at high altitudes performing real-time, high-resolution intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) with its SAR and 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. In November 2021 the DRDO demonstrated TAPAS's ability to take off and land autonomously as well as its ability to utilise India's satellite-based navigation system – GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN) – that has been jointly built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India.

TAPAS has a cruising speed of 135 kt carrying 350 kg of payload.

The armed forces were especially impressed by the drone’s advanced ground control system. During a recent test, two major requirements of India's armed forces—altitude at which the bird can fly and endurance (hours spent in sky). When it landed, TAPAS still had about eight hours of fuel left reported The Week.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will produce the first five TAPAS drones.

Bharat Electronics Limited is the primary partner for electronic systems, like on-board avionics. A total of 76 TAPAS drones will be inducted into the armed forces—the Army, 60; the Air Force, 12; and the Navy, four.