Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chetak UAV Advertisement + Admiral Arun Prakash on how it all happened

Just came across this advert for Israel Aerospace Industries' Naval Rotary UAV (NRUAV), a programme they took up after the Indian Navy asked them if it was possible to rejig old Chetaks into trust ship-borne UAVs. Not sure where the programme is no that front (will find out). For now, here's what IAI says the NRUAV will do: over the horizon targeting (OTHT) and real time battle damage assessment, automatic take-off and landing (ATOL) from aviation-capable war-ship and unprepared landing zone, fail safe/fully redundant system – no single point failure, adverse weather capabilities and multi sensor capability.

The Navy's quest for a ship-borne rotary UAV was intitiated under the stewardship of Admiral Arun Prakash sometime in 2005-06. I asked Admiral Prakash for a brief account of how it all happened. And here's his reply which I quote as-is:

Admiral Arun Prakash: "The Indian Navy was probably one of the first Navies to deploy UAVs out at sea; two of our older frigates have been modified with control stations and can take over a Heron/Searcher launched from ashore. Its been a success story. The results have been amazing; with an optical payload, the kind of fine details that you can see of the target, the long dwell time (in hours) and the stealth, beat anything an MR [maritime reconnaisance] aircraft can do. Then of course, there are EW and radar payloads. However, a shore based UAV still has limitations of endurance and communications range, and we wanted a true sea-going vehicle which could actually live at sea. The shipborne UAVs tried out so far have had limited success so far world-wide. The fixed wing ones have to be trapped in a net (or land on a carrier!) and the rotary winged ones are tough to land in choppy seas. Both had a high accident rate. When the issue was broached with the Israelis, they said they had an an excellent auto-pilot and were confident of small-deck landings in rough seas. We already knew they had the best payloads. We had a cheap, simple, reliable shipborne rotary-wing airframe/engine almost 100% Indian made -- the Chetak. Without its 2 pilots, it would also have a huge payload. HAL wanted a chunk of the action, which was also good. So it looked like a win-win all round."


Anonymous said...

if this thing works, we'll have a whole army of UAVs and not enough ships to operate them off!

Anonymous said...

has the navy seen these birds in action yet? please find out and post in greater detail about this.

Anonymous said...

awesome. grateful to the admiral for his account. very useful and as usual crisp and eloquent.


anirban said...

excellent work shiv, do follow this story as well as you can, will you ??

Anonymous said...

i must say i did not know about this program. very interesting indeed. in my opinion, this unmanned chetak can even be used in 14 Corps areas of operations for recceing zones N & NE of Leh. would be very useful. i have served with 666 siachen falcons as a Capt at leh where i flew cheetahs, and can tell you, there is a crunch for pilots. plus, the risk factor is also dealt with. is this programme being pursued by the army as well? so far i have not heard anything about it. anyway it sounds very good. we have a lot of chetaks. what about cheetah? with both pilots removed, it would have very meaningful payload capacity for small tactical missions. regards, LM.

Anonymous said...

would be interesting to see how effective the autopilot that the israelis have promised is. would be a real sight watching a chetak uav land on, say, the the Beas or Tabar, in choppy waters! that would really be something!

Anonymous said...

LM, all such programs are invariably pursued by the navy. the army etc are too busy sneering at local gear to pay much heed. tomorrow if the same uav is offered to the brass with a made in israel sticker, then see how they rush to buy it.

Anonymous said...

to the anon above
The problems with other projects being there. The Army is pursuing projects like Daksh ROV.
That being said, Navy is of course always a step ahead than the other sister services in innovation and design as well as accpetance of local gear, the exceptions being the Naval ALH and Trishul missile. The problems with these were ofcourse serious enough not to accept.

BTW Shiv, why is there no news on Daksh. It wasnt covered enough in Defexpo as well. Please give us more info on it.