Abhyas, a high-speed expendable aerial target (HEAT) drone, is taking definite shape at the hangars of Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). The scientists are now working on the propulsion and control systems to be fitted onboard ‘Abhyas’, taking the project closer to its final configuration.
Kept under wraps till Aero India-2013, ‘Abhyas’ is tipped as the younger brother of ‘Lakshya’, a pilot-less target aircraft (PTA), now being extensively used by the three wings of Services.
In an interview to Express, ADE Director P S Krishnan confirmed that ‘Abhyas’ had already undergone a proof of the concept, pre-project trial at the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s new test-range in Chitradurga.
“The first experimental launch (minus the engine) of ‘Abhyas’ was held last year at the Chitradurga range. It was the first ground-based trial held at the new range. We are now working on a small gas turbine engine weighing 19 kg having a thrust of 25 kg to be fitted on to ‘Abhyas’,” Krishnan said.
He said, in order to put the project on a fast-track, ADE scientists have used the same toe-body of ‘Lakshya’.
“We have sized the wings and tail plane in proportionate to that of Lakshya so that we are able to get the final product at the earliest. We have conceived a launcher and also identified two 68-mm rockets for ‘Abhyas’. The first experimental flight successfully demonstrated the launch and configuration capabilities,” Krishnan said. With an endurance of 25 to 30 minutes, ‘Abhyas’ will be fitted with sensors and is GPS-enabled.
It will have onboard actuators, a flight control computer and a miss-distance indicator. The project was sanctioned with an initial DRDO funding of `15 crore and ADE will roll out 15 ‘Abhyas’ technology demonstrators (TDs) in the next two years. The Services have floated a combined global tender projecting the requirement of 225 HEAT drones and ADE said it would not be bidding for the same.
The Navy wants HEAT platforms so that it can do away with the post-launch recovery modes, which are time-consuming and difficult in a huge scenario like the sea.