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Lakshya is a surface/ship launched high subsonic reusable aerial target system, remotely piloted from ground. It provides training to the gun/missile crew and to air defence pilots for weapon engagement. The country has reached self reliance in this class of unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The Lakshya is a turbojet system designed as an RPV. India is also developing it as an air- or land-launched variant cruise missile system capable of carrying a 350 kg payload to a range of 600 kms. It was initially projected to enter service by 1998. By April 2002 the Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) Lakshya had been inducted by Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. The Lakshyas developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are fully operational with the users.

Training of pilots in air-to-air weaponry and target practice of surface-to-air missile batteries and guns is a regular peace time drill of all the three Services. In such training, certain amount of live firing practice is essential against realistic airborne targets for proper perception of actual threat parameters likely to be encountered. For this purpose, use of recoverable Pilotless Target Aircraft (PTA) with towed sub-targets had long been considered the most cost effective option. The PTA was also required for evaluation/development trials of new surface-to-air and air-to-air weapon systems.

Several indigenously developed payloads are now available for UAV applications, such as electro-optic imaging, laser ranging and designation system, airborne laser ranger and marker (ALARM), and airborne infra-red target sensor. The gimballed payload assembly (GPA), a two-axes stabilised platform for CCD camera and laser range finder payloads, has been developed to provide azimuth and elevation stabilisation of the sight line against aircraft motion and jitter. An advanced correlation technique-based video tracker has been integrated with this platform for automatic target tracking. The entire system can be installed on manned or unmanned aircraft. The system can also be configured to carry different electro-optic payload combinations.

Two types of scoring systems have been developed as a part of Lakshya aerial target tow body electronics for estimation of the miss distance. The acoustic miss distance indicator (AMDI), which utilises the over pressure produced by the supersonic projectile to estimate the miss distance, provides both distance and sector information. The other system is based on Doppler FM-CW radar principle.

Comprehensive capabilities have been established in all aspects of flight control design and engineering for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) which include design of control laws, flight control electronics, sensors and actuators. Digital processors, software and analog flight control electronics and electromechanical actuators have been developed. The flight control electronics (FCE) for Lakshya aircraft employs an analog electronic design backed by an ASIC to perform flight control and recovery functions of the aircraft. In addition to altitude stabilisation and other flight control functions, the FCE also provides command and autopilot modes.

The need to develop PTA indigenously was identified in 1976. An Inter Services Qualitative Requirement (ISQR), common to the three Services, was formulated by a Working Group constituted by the Ministry of Defence in January 1977 and 35 ISQR points were identified. Subsequently, based on a feasibility study carried out by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) , the project for the design and development of Inter-Services PTA by ADE, satisfying the ISQR was sanctioned by Government in September 1980 at a cost of Rs. 17 crore including a foreign exchange (FE) element of Rs. 8 crore. The development activity was planned for completion within five years. In parallel, a development project for indigenous development of PTA Engine (PTAE-7) was also sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs.4.5 crore (FE Rs. One crore) to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in September 1980, based on a feasibility study and project proposal submitted by HAL. The engine was to be developed by HAL by September 1985, concurrently with the PTA.

At the time of conceptualising the PTA project, it was envisaged that development of PTA would be undertaken by ADE while the series production after successful development would be entrusted to HAL. As the Air Force and the Navy required PTA urgently, the Ministry decided in May 1994 and March 1995 that 10 PTA would be produced (five each for the Air Force and Navy) by ADE at a total cost of Rs.28.86 crore. Though the series production of PTA after its successful development was planned to be entrusted to HAL, DRDO did not transfer technology till 1997. Indian Air Force had received the phase I and II deliveries (3 aircraft, ground systems and expendables) in September 1999 and April, 2000. Indian Navy was scheduled to receive its first phase deliveries in November 2000. As per the projected requirement, during 1986-96, the Services should have required 935 (11x85) PTA for providing ideal air-to-air and surface-to-air weaponry target practices. Against this, a mere 25 PTA were imported between December 1985 and March 1995

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:42:54 ZULU