An indigenous Tapas Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), crashed near Challakere in Karnataka’s Chitradurga district due to a technical issue during an experimental flight trial. The UAV, designed for tactical airborne surveillance, has undergone over 200 test flights.
During the experimental flight trial at ATR Challakere, Karnataka, the Tapas UAV encountered a technical problem, leading to its crash in a nearby farmland. The DRDO is investigating the specific technical cause. Fortunately, there was no collateral damage reported, as stated by the DRDO.
This incident occurred just as the UAV was ready for user evaluation trials. Previously, the UAV had experienced a crash in September 2019.
The Tapas UAV boasts an altitude capacity of 28,000 ft and an endurance of 18 hours, including night flying capabilities. Developed as an indigenous solution, it serves the Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) requirements of the tri-services. With a maximum payload of 350 kg, it’s designed for continuous wide area coverage and the ability to identify small targets. Additionally, it can contribute to tasks like artillery fire corrections and battlefield post-strike assessments.
It’s worth noting that India currently lacks a drone in the HALE (high altitude long endurance) category. In an effort to address this gap, India is procuring 31 MQ-9B Remotely Piloted Aircraft systems (RPAS) from the US at an estimated cost of $3,072 million. General Atomics, the US firm, has offered the drones along with technology transfer, and negotiations are underway to potentially increase the technology transfer element from 8-9% to 15%-20%. These drones will serve multiple roles including intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, electronic warfare, defensive counter air, airborne early warning, and the ability to strike targets with onboard weapons.