Fluffy target system
In the mid 1970s the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) developed a subsonic target drone called ‘Fluffy’ to be used for practice firing by surface to air missiles (SAM) crews at the Suryalanka range. This was a medium sized drone weighing about 500 kg, somewhat similar to the present day Lakshya pilotless target aircraft. It had a cordite motor which enabled it to fly for about 40 km after being launched from a mother aircraft. It was designed to be carried and launched from the under wing pylon of a Canberra B.Mk.66 aircraft. It had a maximum endurance of 5 minutes and could be launched from the maximum altitude of 30,000 feet.
The development of the drone was done in several phases. Initial carriage trials were done at Bangalore and then safe separation trials were done over the Indian Space Research Organisation range at Sriharikota, north of Chennai. The drone was always released on a south easterly heading just as the aircraft crossed the coast so that the drone fell harmlessly into the sea. The drone was tracked by the cine theodolites at the range and accurate trajectory data was available for post flight analysis. After satisfactory separation and unpowered flight with an auto-pilot were successfully demonstrated the cordite motor was installed and powered flight tests were conducted.
Over a dozen sorties in a Canberra B.66 wefre flown in 1977 for these trials. The drone was certified by the Chief Resident Engineer’s office and HAL started to manufacture them. The Fluffy target system was used for some years at Suryalanka and was eventually superseded by the Lakshya pilotless target (PTA) aircraft. After the development of the reusable Aerial Target DRDO Lakshya, which was simpler and more economical to use than Fluffy, the production of the latter was discontinued.
The Fluffy development program could have been pursued further to convert it into a precision guided stand off missile by introducing a warhead and guidance into the system.