BHUBANESWAR: A group of fishermen of Talapada, a nondescript village in Balasore district, were in for a pleasant surprise after netting a prized catch, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flight tested from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), about 20 km from the place. The British-made target drone Banshee was caught by fishermen who had gone fishing into the deep sea. They were taken by surprise when the target aircraft fell on their net when they were preparing to collect fish.
“We had cast nets in the sea for our daily catch. The mini aircraft fell inside. For a moment, we thought it would destroy our net. We slowly dragged the heavy metal object towards our motorised boat and brought it to the shore,” said a fisherman. He said they would hand over the UAV to officials of the test range once they arrive.
Developed by Meggitt Defence Systems, Banshee is an aerial target for surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems. The aircraft is designed to float for overwater 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.The drone’s length is about 2.84 m, wingspan 2.49 m and height 0.86 m. It weighs around 73 kg. Travelling at a maximum speed of 200 km/hr, it can fly nearly 75 minutes with a service ceiling of 23,000 ft.
Defence sources said the drone was flown as part of a radar calibration exercise of Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF officials usually flight test target drones to calibrate it with the radar on fighter aircraft before going for an actual launch of an air-to-air missile.“The Banshee drone was used as an expendable target which need not require recovery. It was for once use. It is of no use after the calibration was over. Its retrieval is not necessary,” said a defence official.
IAF successfully tests short range missile
IAF personnel successfully test fired a short range air-to-air missile from the ITR off Odisha coast. The 13-km range missile acquired by the armed forces destroyed the target with high accuracy. “It is a routine trial and user training exercise by the IAF. The missile used for the mission was randomly selected from the stock. While the drone used in the forenoon was for calibration exercise, another flown in the afternoon was neutralised by the missile,” an official said.