Monday, April 06, 2009

UAV Nishant flies with Indian "Wankel" engine

A week ago, the indigenous Nishant unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flew for the first time with an Indian engine ("Wankel" comes dangerously close to something else, but what the hell). Here's a statement from DRDO today:

A bright and sunny morning in a historic place of  world war II abandoned runway in a small village called Veerapura,  8 Kms from Kolar witnessed another historic event of First ever flight of an indigenous engine powering Nishant Unmanned Air Vehicle. The engine, a wankel Rotary  type was a project originated from VRDE, Ahmednagar, and jointly designed and developed by NAL, a CSIR lab, VRDE, Ahmednagar and ADE, Bangalore.

The flight took off at 1157 hrs on the morning of 31 Mar and climbed to an altitude of 1.8 Kms effortlessly before cruising for a duration of 35 mts.   The air vehicle was recovered safely at the intended place in dried up Muduvadi lake after a total flight duration of 40 mts. The event was witnessed by key personnel PS Krishnan, Director ADE, Dr CL Dhamejani, Director VRDE and DR. AR Upadhya, Director NAL, Regional Director RCMA and Regional Director,AQA and other senior officers.  

The Wankel engine is first of its kind totally designed and developed in the country. Very few countries in the world have the capability to develop and master this technology. The   provisional flight clearance for the first indigenous prototype engine was given by the certifying agency, RCMA in a short ceremony held at the launch pad. The engine was cleared for flight after a rigorous ground and endurance test run.

The engine weighs about 30 Kgs, and is  known for its high power to weight ratio in single rotor category. The engine performed very well in flight meeting all the requirements of the Air Vehicle. This indigenous engine is expected to replace the present imported engine of Nishant. The engine has a power of 55 hp and  can also be used for  powering smaller air vehicles, automotive, out board motors, and Industrial applications.

The event signifies an achievement in many ways like it is the first time that a wankel engine is developed with in the country and a UAV is flown with an indigenous engine. It is planned to use this developed technology for future application for the UAV's under development in ADE, Bangalore.

NISHANT is a reconnaissance UAV which has completed its user trials with Indian Army, and a certain number of units will shortly be handed over the the Army for operational use.

8 comments :

Arun said...

The Mazda Rx-8 has a Wankel engine. It is very hard to make those kind of engines and they have high oil consumption if the seals are not done right. So it is a significant achievement. The RX-8 is in fact the only current production car which has a Wankel engine. They are good for high speed but have low torque, which is not a consideration for UAVs. So this is quite impressive.

Anonymous said...

i remeber seeing a programme in discovery channel on science& technology development in India. one IISc professor had developed a wankel engine and he used it to power a microloght which he flew himself? could this be derived from that? Anyhow its good work . keep up it up ADE et al....

Nirmal said...

Wankel engines are particularly good for aero applications because of their small size, low weight, low vibration and high power. Kudos to the DRDO for making it in-house. But I can't but help thinking it is a case of re-inventing the wheel. They could have spent the time, effort and money on developing the control and avionics rather than actually building an engine from scratch. Small Wankel engines are readily available at dirt cheap prices off the shelf in Europe. Axiro produce a karting engine http://www.woelfle-engineering.com/ and Parajet produce two modified versions of these for personal avaiation (paramotoring) http://www.parajet.com/index.php?id=28 . These units cost less than £3000 for a retail purchaser (and much much cheaper for wholesale purchasers), which is nothing compared to the cost of the electronics on-board the UAV. Small companies like these which operate on small margins would be over the moon if someone like the DRDO bought their designs. It would be like a pension fund for them, and it would have no impact on their core business.
Why don't we just buy the rights to the basic design and modify it for our needs. It would save us so much time. Nevertheless, hats off to our boys.

Jay said...

Wanking err..Wankel engine name makes a lot of sense..means doing by ourselves right? ha ha..;-)
on a serious note..step in right direction..way 2 go drdo

NJS said...

Its a good move by DRDO .
DRDO should step in to create deadlier Attack UAV's with help from other Leaders . India should place more orders in home grown weapons .

GG said...

Chinese Wankel engines might take on a whole new significance.

Abhi said...

Respected Nirmal Sir,
You spoke a lot abot the wankel engines in your comment above.I just wanted to know if you are working on these wankel engines.I am a mechanical engg student n have a keen interest in these wankel engines and their effiency .Hope u reply back soon......

Abhi said...

Respected Nirmal Sir,
You sspoke a lot about the wankel engines being used in the UAV.Sir,just wanted to know if you are working on wankel engines.I m a mechanical eng student n i have got a great interest regarding the working n the efficency factors contributing to the wankel engines.Waiting for ur reply ......