Rustom 2 Drone L&T Joins with DRDO
State run DRDO shares Rustom 2 armed drone technology with leading private player L&T to build, modernize and export [ if government approved ] Ingeniously made armed version of Rustom 2 drone, L&T already invested in the Rustom 2 development program, the desi Predator drone. Army, Air force and Navy already shown interested in the armed drone, expecting first batch orders of some 75 units, DRDO and L&T plans to complete all trails before 2017, and mass produce those units along with another private partner Taneja aerospace and aviation limited.
DRDO fast tracks the Rustom 2 Project, In this years Aero India they signed many contracts with state owned companies like BEL and HAL, for integration and ground control systems. later another contract signed with TAAL for fuselage building and now, they signed another contract with L&T for aerial target systems and training equipment. DRDO plans to build two different variant of Rustom 2, one is the reconnaissance variant another is the armed variant. both carry similar payloads, while one comes with improved surveillance systems as payloads, and another version comes with 350 kg payload of air to surface bombs or missiles.
DRDO planned to build six prototypes, two models for each Army, Air force and Navy variants. It's reported DRDO and TAAL demonstrating Rustom 2's capabilities to navy. The Navy is the first customer to earlier variant of Rustom 1, who is using most desi projects. Army too asking DRDO to demonstrate Rustom 2's capabilities. Army plans to procure more than 20 units in first phase, and planning for more later. Air force isn't hurry since due to the delay of Rustom 2, Airforce singed a contract with Israeli company to supply ten IAI Eitan armed drones. It's suspected that Air force Rustom 2 comes with large modification of Israeli systems with increased payload.
Rustom 2 is designed to perform attack missions by flying low and meantime fly high for long time surveillance. high altitude drones fly longer time than other aircraft, due to it's weight, engine power and Speed. to maintain long flights the drones must fly above the commercial air traffic line to evade any confrontations with civilian planes. still no information available about the Rustom 2's flying altitude, however it's believed it can fly above some 40,000 feet.
Also DRDO signed a agreement with state owned VRDE - Vehicle research and Development Establishment to produce engines which will be used in the Rustom 2. VRDE and private player Mahindra already signed a contract to jointly build a 200 HP engine. So it's clear all the Rustom 2 drones comes with indigenous engine. in April 2014 DRDO successfully completed the ground trails of the engine with Rustom 2 supported by HAL.
As of March 2015 only two Rustom 2 prototypes developed. it's believed they build more in coming days with the support of Taneja. However there is no information about the Rustom 2's combat range. it's believed Rustom 2 will fly more than six hours, with the speed of some 300 kilometers, and the combat radius of 900 kilometers.
Rustom 2 can carry 350 kg of weapons, mostly desi made Helina anti armor missiles in quad pack, or two 100 kg guided bombs, mostly laser guided LGB's. it's hard to achieve launching the Spice glide bombs since it needed guidance from on board aircraft, DRDO's Defence Electronics Application Laboratory provides all critical data links connecting the drones and control center, using secure satellite data link. It's expected the Rustom 2 will be inducted into the forces after 2017.