DRDO Abhyas Expendable Target
Abhyas High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) is a drone. It 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 country's first locally developed system.
Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO, Abhyas is capable of fully-autonomous flight and runs on a gas turbine engine. Its inertial navigation system is based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and it uses a flight control computer for guidance and control. With an endurance of 25-30 minutes, Abhyas will be fitted with sensors and is GPS-enabled. It will have onboard actuators, a flight control computer and a miss-distance indicator. The project was sanctioned with an initial DRDO funding of Rs 15 crore and ADE will roll out 15 Abhyas technology demonstrators (TDs) in the next two years.
The Services have floated a combined global tender projecting the requirement of 225 HEAT drones and ADE says it will not be bidding for the same. The Indian Navy wants HEAT platforms so that it can do away with the post-launch recovery modes, which are time-consuming and difficult in a huge scenario like the sea. “In addition to being a stable vehicle for weapon practice, Abhyas can be used as an effective jammer platform. Every bit of onboard systems come for Indian industries, which makes Project Abhyas special in many ways.
Abhyas, a high-speed expendable aerial target (HEAT) drone, was taking definite shape in 2013 at the hangars of Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). The scientists are now working on the propulsion and control systems to be fitted onboard Abyas, taking the project closer to it's final configuration. Kept under wraps till Aero India-2013, Abhyas is tipped as the younger brother of Lakshya, a pilot-less target aircraft (PTA), now being extensively used by the three wings of Services.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted successful flight test of ABHYAS- High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) from ITR Balasore in Odisha on 22 September 2020. Two demonstrator vehicles were successfully test flown. The vehicle can be used as a target for evaluation of various missile systems. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO for conducting successful flight test of ABHYAS from Odisha test range. "The DRDO achieved a milestone today with the successful flight test of ABHYAS - High Speed Expandable Aerial Target from ITR Balasore. This can be used as a target for evaluation of various Missile systems. Congratulations to @DRDO_India & other stakeholders for this achievement," Singh tweeted.
This is the second time that the target vehicle was flight-tested successfully. The first successful test was in May 2019. But during the recent tests, Abhyas cleared all the parameters that were being evaluated. 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”.
ABHYAS is designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), DRDO. The air vehicle is launched using twin underslung booster. It is powered by a small gas turbine engine and has MEMS based Inertial Navigation System (INS) for navigation along with the Flight Control Computer (FCC) for guidance and control. The vehicle is programmed for fully autonomous flight. The check out of air vehicle is done using laptop based Ground Control Station (GCS).
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 while adding that, '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.' The services can launch it with the help of a laptop anywhere. With GPS, it has become more accurate and can even hit a window of a building. It is an armed missile once you put a warhead. With development of Abhyas, India has become the only nation to have such high-end multiple use drone technology in the sub-continent.