Developed and designed by DRDO, ABHYAS is a 75-kg drone that will be used as a target for various missile systems. Capable of attaining an altitude of more than five kilometres at half the speed of sound, it can also be used as a decoy aircraft

The air vehicle was launched using twin under-slung boosters, which provide the initial acceleration to the vehicle. (Image: DRDO)

India on Wednesday successfully flight-tested the indigenously-developed High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT), ABHYAS from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur off the Odisha coast.

The performance of the aircraft at low altitude, including sustained level and high manoeuvrability, was demonstrated during the test flight.

The target aircraft was flown from a ground-based controller in a pre-designated low-altitude flight path, which was monitored by various tracking sensors deployed by ITR, including radar and an electro-optical targeting system.

Let’s take a closer look at ABHYAS:

What Is It?

Developed and designed by Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), ABHYAS is a drone that will be used as a target for various missile systems.

It can also be used as a decoy aircraft, if needed.

As per The Week, ABHYAS is designed to offer a realistic threat scenario for the practice of weapon systems. But it is much more than an aerial target . Besides for training purpose, it can be used for multiple things. It is the country’s first locally developed system.

The services can launch it with the help of a laptop anywhere, as per the report.

How Does It Work?

Capable of fully-autonomous flight, the target aircraft runs on a gas turbine engine is equipped with a micro-electromechanical systems-based inertial navigation system. It also has a flight control computer for guidance and control along with a radio altimeter for very low-altitude flight and a data link for encrypted communication.

Having a length of 2,385 mm and diameter of 180 mm, the drone weighs around 75 kg.

With a speed of Mach 0.5, it can attain an altitude of more than five kilometres and can cover a distance of 400 kilometers.

According to DRDO, the test vehicle met “the user requirement of 5 km flying altitude, vehicle speed of 0.5 Mach [half the speed of sound], endurance of 30 minutes and 2G turn capability”.

The air vehicle was launched using twin under-slung boosters, which provide the initial acceleration to the vehicle. It is powered by a small gas turbine engine to sustain a long endurance flight at high subsonic speed.

What Experts Said

A scientist privy to the development of the system told The Week, “The primary purpose is to sharpen the existing air-defence mechanism that is why it is named as ABHYAS (means practice). These targets imitate fighter aircraft. These are peacetime operations to hone your skills.”

“If intelligently used, ABHYAS can cause huge damage to the enemy by its multiple applications. It is a very good aerial asset,” said former ADE director PS Krishnan who launched the project.

“ABHYAS has multiple applications. Its Radar Cross Section is increased 50 times to imitate a fighter jet. It also has a potential to be converted into a high speed subsonic missile. It can act as a decoy and also function as a jammer platform,” a scientist explained.

“It is capable to carry warheads. But in its present form ABHYAS is not meant for that. But in near future, it can be used depending upon your requirement.”

Defence minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO and the armed forces for the successful flight trial of ABHYAS, and said that the development of this system will meet the requirements of aerial targets.

DRDO chairman G Satheesh Reddy lauded the efforts of the teams associated with the design, development and testing of the system.

The DRDO earlier conducted a successful ABHYAS flight test in 2019 in Odisha.

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