Akash Test Held up, PTA under Scanner

Published: 06th June 2014 07:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th June 2014 09:52 AM   |  A+A-


BALASORE: Defence experts have raised doubt over the efficiency of UK-made unmanned aircraft Banshee which was to be used as a target against surface-to-air medium range missile Akash, but failed to perform twice in the last couple of days.

While on Tuesday the aerial target fell down in the sea nearly three minutes after taking off from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur off the Odisha coast, on Wednesday the pilot-less target aircraft (PTA) failed to take off due to technical glitches in its lifting support system.

The mission team of Akash had to postpone the missile test till June 20. Defence sources said there was technical snag in the motor of the aircraft.

Though on earlier occasions, the Lakshya target has performed below the expectations, the experts claimed that indigenously built Lakshya PTA is performing better than British-made multi-functional target aircraft Banshee even as the latter’s flight duration is more.

Lakshya is a remotely piloted high speed target drone system developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO. It has two variants - Lakshya-I and Lakshya-II. The Lakshya-I is used to perform discreet aerial reconnaissance of battlefield and target acquisition.

The drone, remotely piloted by a ground control station, provides realistic towed aerial sub-targets for live fire training. This unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is ground or ship launched from a zero length launcher and recovery is by a two stage parachute system developed by ADE for land or sea based recovery.

Defence scientists said the Lakshya drone had a crushable nose cone which absorbs the impact of landing, minimising damage. Its flight path, they said, may be controlled or pre-programmed based on the type of mission.

On the other hand, the Banshee is an aerial target for surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems. The aircraft is designed to float for over-water operations recovery. Its installable options include radar enhancement devices and target sleeves. It can simulate a sea-skimming missile or serve as a scouting UAV with a camera.

Moreover, Lakshya is a more sophisticated PTA powered by a turbojet while Banshee is powered by rotary engine. Lakshya is much heavier (nearly 10 times) than Banshee and flies much faster than the British drone.

Justifying the use of Banshee target during training exercises instead of Lakshya, defence scientists said the latter was cheaper than the former. Banshee is also easily retrievable as it weighs less.

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