DRDO Rustom

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Not to be confused with Rostam.
A model of the DRDO Rustom-H HALE UAV
Role Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
Manufacturer Defence Research and Development Organisation
First flight
  • Rustom-1: 11 November 2009
  • Rustom-2: April-May, 2016 (scheduled)
  • Rustom-1 MALE UAV (Prototype flight testing)
  • Rustom-H HALE UAV (Under development)
  • Rustom-2 UCAV (Under development)[1]
Primary users Indian Air Force
Indian Army
Indian Navy

The DRDO Rustom (English: Warrior) is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation for the three services, Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force of the Indian Armed Forces.[2] Rustom is derived from the NAL's LCRA (Light Canard Research Aircraft) developed by a team under the leadership of late Prof Rustom Damania in the 1980s. The UAV will have structural changes and a new engine.[3] Rustom will replace/supplement the Heron UAVs in service with the Indian armed forces.[4]

Design and development[edit]

Rustom-1's basic design is derived from the NAL light canard research aircraft (LCRA). The aircraft has been named after Rustom Damania, a former professor of IISc, Bangalore who died in 2001. As a Parsi, Rustom himself was named after the Parthian general Rostam Farrokhzad in the Sassanid court who fought the Muslim Arabs.[5] DRDO decided to name the UAV after him because it is derived from National Aerospace Laboratories' light canard research aircraft (LCRA) developed under Rustom Damania’s leadership in the 1980s.[6]

With the Rustom MALE UAV project, DRDO intends to move away from traditional ways of developing products whereby laboratories under DRDO, like the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), which is involved in this project, develop and finalise the product and transfer technology to a production agency.[7]

DRDO will follow a practice of concurrent engineering where initial design efforts also take into consideration production issues, with the production agency participating in the development of the system right from the design stage. The agency will also follow up issues related to infrastructure and expertise for the product and its support, thereby overcoming time delays in crucial projects.[8]

Rustom-1 which bears an uncanny resemblance to Rutan Long-EZ designed by Burt Rutan has a wingspan of 7.9 metres[9] and weighs 720 kg,[9] will be launched by the conventional method and not the launcher as in the case of the DRDO Lakshya. Rustom will be able to see the enemy territory up to a distance of 250 km and carry a variety of cameras and radar for surveillance.[10]

Rustom-H, built on a different design, owes nothing to Burt Rutan's Long-EZ design. It is a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (MALE UAV), a twin engine system designed to carry out surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Rustom H will have a payload capacity of 350 kg.[7]

The range of advanced technologies and systems include the following:[9]

  • Aerodynamic configurations, High aspect ratio wing, Composite airframe integrated with propulsion system, De-icing system for wings
  • Highly reliable systems with built-in redundancy for flight critical systems like flight control and navigation, data links, power management, - and mission critical payload management system
  • Digital Flight Control and Navigation System, Automatic Take off and Landing (ATOL)
  • Digital communication technologies for realising data links to control and operate the mission and relay UAVs
  • Payloads with high resolution and precision stabilised platforms.


There will be three variants of the Rustom UAV.[11]

  • Rustom-I: Tactical UAV with endurance of 12 hours (based on NAL's LCRA which was inspired by Burt Rutan's Long-EZ)[7][12]
  • Rustom-H: Larger UAV with flight endurance of over 24 hours (completely different design from Rustom-1), higher range and service ceiling than Rustom-1.
  • Rustom-II: An unmanned combat air vehicle based on Rustom-H model. It is often compared with Predator drones by Indian scientists and media.[7][11][13][14]

Current status[edit]

A scaled down model of the Rustom-1 MALE UAV

The Indian government has allowed the development of the Rustom MALE UAV project in association with a production agency cum development partner (PADP). The ADE officials indicated that the requests for proposals (RFP) would shortly be issued to four vendors which are the Tatas, Larsen and Toubro, Godrej and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-Bharat Electronics (joint bid) who were chosen out of the 23 firms that responded.

Currently, negotiations are underway between these companies and the three Indian armed forces since the private majors are looking for support and commitment from them before they start executing any development and production plans. This is because of the fact that the chosen PADP will also have a financial stake in the Rustom project. The Armed Forces would also be asked to take up a financial stake and the Indian government may have to guarantee that a specific number of Rustom UAVs will be bought.[8][15][16]


The first flight of Rustom-I UAV took place on 16-11-2009 at the Taneja Aerospace Air Field near Hosur. The demonstration resulted in the prototype crashing to the ground. Stated by the DRDO, the taxiing and takeoff was exactly as planned. Due to misjudgment of altitude of the flight, the on-board engine was switched off through ground command which made the on-board thrust developed to go to zero.[17] Despite the mishap, the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation stated: "The flight proved the functioning of a number of systems such as aerodynamics, redundant flight control, engine and datalink, which go a long way towards the development of a complex UAV."

Rustom-1 UAV prototype

The second "maiden" flight took place on 15th Oct 2010. In this test flight, the UAV flew for 30 minutes at an altitude of 3000 feet. The test was conducted in Hosur.[18] The Indian army was impressed with Rustom-1 and will use it as a MALE UAV.

Rustom-1 made its 5th successful flight on morning of 12 Nov 2011, flying for 25 minutes at 2300-ft AGL at a speed 100 Knots. It completed its 8th successful flight on 8 Dec 2011. It flew at an altitude of 6000-feet (max) and at a speed of 90 knots (max) during its 30 minutes flight near Hosur, claims DRDO. The highlight of the flight was that Rustom-1 was test flown with the 'gimbal payload assembly carrying daylight TV & Infra-Red camera for the first time. Good quality pictures were received from the camera in gimbal payload assembly.

The 14th Successful Flight of Rustom-1 was reported on 8 May 2012, with the attainment of about 11500 ft above ground level and speed of above 140 Kmph during 2 hrs 10 minutes of operation.[19]


Rustom-2 is an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) developed by India on the lines of the American Predator drones.[1][7][13]

In October, 2010 A senior DRDO official stated,

In February 2012, ADE Director P S Krishnan stated,


Specifications of Rustom-1 and Rustom-H are as follows:

Data from Defstrat.com,[9] idp.justthe80.com[20] and stargazer2006.online.fr[21]

General characteristics

  • Crew: none
  • Payload: 95 Kg (165.3 lbs) and 350 kg (771.6 lbs) (for Rustom-1 & Rustom-H respectively)
  • Length: 5.12 m (16 ft 10 in) and 9.5 m (31 ft 2 in)[9] (for Rustom-1 & Rustom-H respectively)
  • Wingspan: 7.9 m (25 ft 11 in) and 20.6 m (67 ft 7 in) (for Rustom-1 & Rustom-H respectively)
  • Height: Rustom-1: 2.40 m (7 ft 10 in)
  • Empty weight: 720 kg (1587.33 lbs) & 1,800 kg (3968.32 lbs) (for Rustom-1 & Rustom-H respectively)
  • Powerplant:
    • Rustom-I: 1 × Lycoming O-320 engines Four-cylinder air-cooled horizontally opposed engine, 112 kW (150 hp)[22]
    • Rustom-H: 2 × NPO-Saturn 36MT engines[23] wing-mounted turboprop, 73.55 kW (~100 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 150 km/hr(Rustom 1) and 225 km/hr(Rustom 2) (139.81 mph)
  • Cruise speed: 125-175 km/hr (Rustom 2)
  • Range:
    • Line of sight: 250 km[20] (156.25 miles)
    • Relay Communication: 350 km[20] (218.75 miles)
  • Ferry range: 1000 km[20] (625 miles) for Rustom-2
  • Service ceiling: 26,000 ft for Rustom-1 and 35,000 ft for Rustom-H (8,000 m and 10,668 m respectively)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Related lists


  1. ^ a b "First flight of UAV Rustom-2 scheduled in Feb, 2014". The Economic Times. Feb 22, 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  2. ^ Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV Rustom Archived January 2, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Chapter 9 : NAL and Trainers:ACIG
  4. ^ India joins select group to develop UCAV technology
  5. ^ as a citizen of India .. you too would be protected from harm by the drone “Rustom” just as the king in Iran’s kingdom was protected single-handedly by the great Rustom Pahelwan
  6. ^ [1] Archived February 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Unmanned: The Future of Air Wars". SP's Aviation. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  8. ^ a b DRDO’s Rustom UAV To Roll Out Soon. India Defence Online. Retrieved on 2011-10-20.
  9. ^ a b c d e "Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Made in India". South Asia Defence Strategic Review. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Aero India 2009 News: Rustom to lock horns with Mantis, Herti. Indianaviationnews.net. Retrieved on 2011-10-20.
  11. ^ a b c India Eyes Armed Rustom UAV
  12. ^ [2] India plans to develop solar-powered UAVs
  13. ^ a b "India may soon have its own 'Predator drones'". Rediff News. November 15, 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "ADE Finalizes Rustom-2 UAV Flight, Reveals Future Drone Projects for Defence". Defence Now. February 25, 2012. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Significant step toward indigenous UAV
  16. ^ Rustom-1 will hit production
  17. ^ Indias-uav-demonstrator-crashes-during-trials
  18. ^ News / National : Rustom 1 test-flown. The Hindu (2010-10-18). Retrieved on 2011-10-20.
  19. ^ http://drdo.gov.in/drdo/English/dpi/press_release/rustum-1_14.pdf DRDO Press Release: 14th Successful Flight of RUSTOM-1
  20. ^ a b c d "Rustom MALE UAV". Indian Defense Projects Sentinel. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  21. ^ "DRDO-ADE 'Rustom-I' and 'Rustom-H'". Stargazer. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  22. ^ "Aero India: the DRDO displayed the Rustom-1 MALE UAV". Russian Unmanned Vehicle Systems Association. 11 March 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  23. ^ "India Now Wants Hundreds Of UAVs". Aviation Week. May 20, 2011. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 

External links[edit]