The UAV is capable of operating at altitudes up to 28,000 feet, with an endurance of 18 hours

India is dependent on Israel for sophisticated UAV... TAPAS is DRDO's solution to the tri services' ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Tracking, and Reconnaissance) requirements, while UAV Archer is a weaponised drone

Multitude of displays have been put up by various aircraft at the Aero India 2023, but an eye in the sky above all these metal birds has impressed one and all. Unmanned aerial vehicle TAPAS (Tactical Aerial Platform for Advanced Surveillance) captured the whole air display live from an altitude of 12,000 feet and relayed it live, leaving the spectators wondering who was taking these aerial shots of flying ‘Suryakirans’ and fighter jets.

The video taken by TAPAS has received widespread appreciation for the high resolution ground coverage, the clarity was so good that even ground markings on the tarmac were visible. It is not just the video quality, the endurance and other aspects of the UAV which has thrilled people in the defence sector. “We thought our capability has to be demonstrated and it was an occasion to see how well we capture from a distance," said Dr Tessy Thomas, DG -Aeronautical Systems, DRDO.

Why Tapas Is Major Boost To India's Defence Capabilities?

TAPAS is DRDO’s solution to the tri services’ ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Tracking, and Reconnaissance) requirements. The UAV is capable of operating at altitudes up to 28,000 feet, with an endurance of 18 hours. The drone, which is based out of DRDO’s facility in Karnataka’s Chitradurga, can fly autonomously or can be operated via a remote control and can operate in daylight or darkness.

“We have already shown an endurance of 18 hours, we have further capacity in flying duration of the UAV. It has reached 28,000 feet. It has all modern electronic payloads, if any aerial vehicle is approaching, it can identify if it is a friendly aircraft or enemy one. It has all payload capability, radar and SAR systems," explained Dr Tessy Thomas.

An advanced version of the UAV named Archer is being developed to further improve the capabilities in terms of endurance and payload capacity. To improve the system, UAV Archer has been converted to a single engine system, with a weight reduction of 1,000 kg. It will be a weaponised drone. “With all capabilities and enhancements, we aim to reach 30,000 feet altitude with highly optimised systems. It will be capable of line of sight and beyond line of sight operation with auto take-off and landing," said Dr Tessy Thomas.

India is currently dependent on Israel for sophisticated UAV. The country has imported Heron and Searcher-II drones from Israel. Success of UAV TAPAS and Archer could make India self-reliant in modern day drone-based warfare.