A calibration exercise involving pilotless target aircraft (PTA) fitted with a new engine, developed in collaboration with an Italian firm, has been planned this month. The tests are scheduled to be conducted from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur off the Odisha coast.
Defence sources said the air trial also features fighter aircraft Mirage 2000 which would be coordinated against the PTA. As part of the exercise, the fighter aircraft would fire short range air-to-air missiles at the tow body released from the PTA for the precision training purposes of fighter pilots.
While the new engine of the PTA has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in collaboration with the Italian firm, the exercise would be conducted to test target location and precision firing capability of pilots of Mirage 2000 fighter jets of the IAF.
“Besides, the HAL officials would judge the endurance and flight duration of the PTA’s new engine. A team of scientists from the Italian company, which supported HAL to develop the engine, has also arrived here for the purpose,” a source said.
The new engine of PTA has been developed to judge its performance with regard to its flight duration in normal and hostile terrains which would ultimately help the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to remain on air for a longer duration in exigencies and cater to the requirements of Armed Forces like taking photograph of the locations of enemy forces, bunkers and movement of the men and material during the real time situations.
The efficacy of the UAVs has been largely felt in Siachen and disputed territories along Indo-Pak border where mobilisation of the striking forces is a routine affair following petty skirmishes along the Line of Control. Many times, it has proved its mettle by furnishing strategic information in the past.
The HAL recently delivered the first version of PTA - Lakshya-1 - to Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and the unmanned aircraft will be used by the Indian Army.
Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO, Lakshya-1 is a high-performance reusable target system. It is used to mimic the enemy aircraft for proficiency assessment and improvement of surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon system crew.
Sources said HAL would soon take up manufacturing of next generation version of PTA - Lakshya-2 - which has also been designed and developed by the ADE.