DRDO ADVANCES WEAPONISED ARCHER UAV
India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) – an agency under the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – has disclosed new details about the development and testing of its new Short-Range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle-Weaponised (SRUAV-W) – also known as ‘Archer’.
An ADE official told Janes at the eighth Aerospace and Defence Manufacturing Show (ADMS), which was held in Bangalore from 26 to 27 October, that the SRUAV-W/Archer is based on the ADE’s Rustom-1 tactical UAV. “We are working through the flight test phase of Archer. We are confident that we’ll be able to complete the initial weaponised flight test phase by June 2024,” the official said.
Initial development of the Rustom-1 started in 2009 for the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) role. Under the Archer project, the UAV has been remodified to carry out armed missions. The modification is understood to have started in mid-2022.
In a series of tests by ADE, Archer has constantly achieved an altitude of 20,000 ft. The system was designed to fly at a ceiling of 22,000 ft, the official said. The lower ceiling reflects the ADE’s ongoing tests to support the Archer system’s integration of payloads including anti-tank guided missiles and anti-personnel missiles.
The official did not disclose the engine manufacturer, but it is understood to have been imported from France. Driven by a three-bladed pusher propeller, Archer is propelled by a 16 hp piston engine.
Concurrently, the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the DRDO is getting ready to showcase multiple ‘Made in India’ weapon systems. In the forefront is the Armed Archer-NG Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Set to roll out later this year, the Archer-NG is equipped with a diverse range of weapon systems, making it a potent weapon platform capable of tackling a variety of missions.
The payload of the Archer-NG is up to 300 kg. It has four hard points that gives it the flexibility to carry varied combinations of weapon systems depending on requirements to destroy particular types of targets. One of the weapons with which the Archer-NG will be armed with is the third generation ‘fire and forget’ UAV launched precision guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) having a range of four km. The DRDO is planning to develop three more variants of this missile with an extended range of over six km.
The Archer-NG is also likely to be armed with the 125 kg Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon with a range of 100 km. This would enable the Archer-NG to undertake missions to disable enemy airfields and target enemy critical infrastructure and other ground targets with precision strikes. The Archer- NG is also to be armed with laser guided rockets and bombs. In addition, the Archer-NG would also be armed with loitering munitions having a range of 100 km. There are also plans to arm the Archer-NG with a mini cruise missile, to be developed in collaboration with the private sector, for taking on enemy targets at long standoff ranges. All these will make the Archer- NG a potent force multiplier for the Armed Forces.