Within two years of developing the Vihang Netra, India’s first Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the private sector built for the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment, a DRDO lab, a conglomeration of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is now ready with the country’s first, hand-launched mini-UAV— E-5.
Pune-based DEMA Mechatronic Technologies Pvt. Ltd (DMT) the manufacturing arm of the Defence Electronics Manufacturers Association (DEMA), which played a crucial role in the Vihang Netra exercise, has come up with the E-5, which was successfully tested on December 27 at the Gliding Centre in Hadapsar.
“This is the first time a UAV has been developed by a professional body and that too for being offered off-the-shelf. Traditionally, defence procurement is a laid down procedure that involves placing requirements followed by research, development and handing over. This time, we decided to develop the product and approach the Armed Forces with it. The UAV is ready and depending upon the end-user, which in this case could be the Armed Forces as well as paramilitary Forces, we would customise the product further,” said D S Kamlapurkar, former president, DEMA. With a packing set that weighs 2.5 kg, the UAV can be backpacked and hand-launched. It’s battery operated with a maximum speed of 50 kmph and can be airborne for 45 minutes. “The maximum altitude is 1,500 metres. We have equipped it with a way point based GPS navigation, 2.4 GHz and 900 Mhz radio links and day/night use CCD camera. Given the size and ease of operations, this is the most suitable option for the Armed Forces to survey a region, carry out anti-insurgency missions…customs and coast guard missions, police and homeland security and so on. Applications such as fire fighting missions or pipeline and industrial monitoring can find use in a civilian set-up as well,” added Kamlapurkar.
The UAV can have extended range, endurance, night vision camera — the first-ever in the country — pan-and-tilt camera and digital link, according to Kamlapurkar, who added, “The UAV that has a range of five km, sends back data to the ground station… There are options such as way point navigation, abort mission, in-flight way point changes, hovering around target, real time target co-ordinate transmission and so on.”
With test flights to prove the software and hardware currently on, DMT plans to launch the product in the market in three-four months.Priced Rs 30-35 lakh per unit, it consists of three such aircraft and a ruggadised laptop groundstation, the organisers are targeting a sale of 200-300 units in five years.