• The indigenous medium altitude long endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation is expected to complete all user trials by August 2023,
  • A separate project for the weaponisation of the Rustom UAV is also under way.
  • “Four prototypes of Rustom-2 are currently flying. Five production models will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), which is the production partner,” a defence official said on the sidelines of DefExpo-2022.
  • “The production models will be ready in five or six months.”
  • A second official said night flying trials had started but were held up due to logistical issues and were expected to be completed shortly.
  • Last December, Rustom-2 had crossed a milestone by reaching an altitude of 25,000 feet and an endurance of 10 hours. The target is to reach an altitude of 30,000 feet with an endurance of 20 hours


  • It has been designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru with production partners being Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Bharat Electronics Limited.
  • It is also known as Tapas-BH (Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon 201).
  • The UAV is actually named after Rustom Damania, a former professor at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru.
  • In the 1980s, he led the National Aeronautical Laboratories’ light canard research aircraft (LCRA) program.
  • The LCRA platform and R&D provide the preliminary drive for DRDO ADE’s eventual Rustom-II design


  • It is being developed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles and is capable of carrying different combinations of advanced payload and capable of auto-landing among others.
  • It is being designed to acquire real-time, high-quality pictures and signal intelligence from fields of concern at medium to long ranges.
  • It technologically matches contemporary UAVs available and will also be cheaper than the imported ones. 

Significance and need 

  • High endurance UAVs are a priority requirement for the armed forces especially in the standoff with China in Eastern Ladakh.
  • The armed forces rely heavily on the Israeli Searcher and Heron drones and need more such UAVs.


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