From a Correspondent
JORHAT, July 1: Hovering of an unidentified aircraft over the skies of Jorhat has created panic among the people, especially after people witnessed heavy air traffic movement of AN- aircraft, helicopters, including gunships and host of other aircraft of the Indian Air Force in the last 10-15 days after India reportedly launched an offensive against NE ultras in the neighbhouring country of Myanmar. But in between all this, the present unidentified aircraft relatively smaller in size and with high speed has raised questions if the aircraft is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), more commonly known as Rustam 2, developed by India’s leading research organization DRDA (Defense Research and Development Organization).
Officials at the Jorhat Air Force Station remain tight lipped about any test flight being conducted by DRDO in Jorhat. When contacted by a reporter of a leading news channel, the PRO at Jorhat Air force remarked about the aircraft to be an AN-32 and not necessarily a UAV, also known as a drone. It might be some small aircraft of a flying club operating from the domestic end of the Jorhat Airport. Sources have, however, informed about the Jorhat Airport being upgraded with ISL (Instrumental Landing System) to facilitate night landing of aircraft.
S Ghosh, PRO at Tezpur Air Force also expressed his ignorance regarding the test flight despite informing him of a captured video image of an unmanned aerial vehicle over the skies of Jorhat and if the Air Force was to be believed than perhaps some foreign UAV had conducted aerial reconissance over Jorhat without the knowledge of the ATC (Air Traffic Control) or even the Air Force while evading radar contact.
DRDO’s first project in the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was the Rustam 1, test flight of which was first undertaken at Hosur in November, 2009. Initial investigations point towards the DRDO’s ambition to conduct the first test flight in April, 2015. The second maiden test flight was conducted in Hosur on October, 2010 wherein the UAV flew for 30 minutes at an altitude of 3,000 feet. And thereafter repeated tests were conducted by DRDO with the 14th successful flight reported on 8 May, 2012 with the attainment of about 11,500 feet above ground level and speed of above 140 kmph.
The Rustam- UAV is comparable to the American ‘Predator’ drone due to its state-of-art- capabilities and in the future Rustam-2 UAVs can be deployed for military missions like reconissance and surveillance, target acquisitions, target desigtion, communications relay, battle damage assessment and sigl intelligence.