DIAT to provide eyes and ears for country’s first armed war bird
As India prepares to join the elite club of countries possessing Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV), a DRDO laboratory in the city has been working on conceptualising and designing the eyes and ears of India’s first armed war bird.
Scientists at DRDO’s Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), a deemed university, have been working on designing radars and sensors of Aura, the first indigenous UCAV currently under development at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore.
In an exclusive interview, DIAT Vice-Chancellor Prahlada said, “Scientists at DIAT are working on development of radars for the UCAV programme currently under way at ADA. The expected timeline for development of a prototype is about a year-and-a- half from now. The radar will provide C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capability to the aircraft. Research is on on development of lightweight radars to reduce weight of the aircraft, save maximum energy and provide realtime feedback to the control centre,” said Prahlada.
Aura, a stealth UAV capable of firing precision-guided munitions at targets is expected to add teeth to the country’s existing fleet of UAVs. While the first flight is expected to take place in 2015, the targeted year of induction 2017. Prahlada added, “Work is currently on regarding selection of materials, components and technological aspects of the radars. We are currently working with our own budgets.”
It may be noted that DIAT receives annual funds of Rs 50 crore and is expected to get an increased funding of Rs 100 crore per year over the next three years. “DRDO wants to develop DIAT into a centre for basic research, which can then be implemented in technology being developed at DRDO laboratories and industries. World over, the basic R&D is outsourced to universities and that is exactly what is being implemented here at DIAT. The laboratory has already entered into an agreement with Naval Postgraduate School and professors there regularly interact with researchers here and vice-versa. Plans to enter into a collaboration with Israel are under way,” he said.
The laboratory has 200 MTech students and 50 PhD scholars. Future plans include introduction of a management wing to confer an MBA equivalent degree to personnel from the DRDO, Armed Forces and even civilian sectors. Prahlada also spelt out the need for starting an aeronautical programme at DIAT.