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Scientists are all set to unveil the wheeled-version of India’s homegrown unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) Nishant. The UAV named Panchi, means bird, and it will be capable of taking off and landing from semi-prepared runways, thereby reducing the turnaround time between missions.
Sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) told Express on Wednesday that Panchi has already been transported to the testing facility in Kolar.
“We have completed the taxi trials and are readying it for the maiden flight. Panchi is currently undergoing some refinement and the mission readiness team will further asses the UAV,” a scientist working with the project from Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) told the Indian Express.
Similar to Nishant UAV, Panchi can be used for reconnaissance, intelligence gathering missions over hostile territory, target designation, surveillance and also to assess damages during natural calamities.
Once operational, Panchi will join the ranks of other proven wheeled UAVs from across the globe, including Searcher, Heron, Global Hawk and Predator, capable of the conventional takeoff and landing.
“With the requirement for extended endurance and payload carrying capacity, the focus of launching and recovery of UAVs world over shifted from launcher and parachute systems to conventional take-off and landing techniques,” the scientist said.
The existing version of Nishant is launched from a mobile launcher and later recovered using parachute and landing bags.
This results in high impact loads on the aircraft systems, necessitating extensive inspections, checks and maintenance activities before launching again.
The mission team had to deal with many challenges while rolling out Panchi and still have some critical points to clear before the first flight.