The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Rustom 2, belonging to the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) crashed during a trial in an Areca orchard field in Karnataka. This incident happened in the Jodi Chillenahalli village, Challakere taluk of the Chitradurga district on Tuesday. A video of the crash was accessed by Republic, where people are seen gathering near the crash site. According to emerging reports, it crashed-landed 17 km away from the DRDO facility early in the morning.
The UAV had taken off from the DRDO’s Challakere Aeronautical Test Range at Kudapura in the taluk. It was about to commence a test flight towards Hassan. But, it developed a technical snag after the take-off and lost contact with the ground station and radar at 6.30 am. Sources reckon that it crashed about 15 minutes later. As a loud noise was heard at the site of the accident, considerable panic was created among the villagers who subsequently gathered at the spot. However, no one was reported to be injured.
The Chitradurga Superintendent of Police Arun K confirmed the incident and clarified that no one was injured. The DRDO and local police rushed to the crash site within minutes and informed the locals about the factual situation.
"It is a Rustom-2 UAV from DRDO. Test trials were being conducted and it failed and fell in the open field. People were curious as to what it was and they gathered. We have cordoned off the area now and police are at the spot," the police officer said.
The DRDO test range lies in close vicinity of the Chitradurga district headquarters. The Challakere Aeronautical Test Range is an outdoor testing and evaluating centre. The DRDO has exclusively set it up for unmanned and manned aircraft. This is the second such incident to take place. In February 2018, a small practice drone lost control and crashed during its trial run at the Test Range.
Rustom 2 is a twin-engineered, medium altitude and long-range UAV manufactured by the Aeronautical Development Establishment working under the aegis of the DRDO for the army, navy and air force. It is the Indian counterpart of the American ‘Predator’ drones, which are used for reconnaissance and surveillance. DRDO conducted the first flight of the Rustom 2 prototype in November 2018. It will replace the current UAV-Heron. It was specifically developed for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Officials suggest that it is capable of carrying different combinations of payloads like synthetic aperture radar, electronic intelligence systems, and situational awareness payloads.
(With PTI inputs)