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India’s Rustom 1 makes second successful flight

India's Rustom 1 unmanned air vehicle has completed its second successful test flight, with future sorties to include military payloads.

The flight took place on 14 May, said India's Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO). The Rustom 1 was developed by a unit of the DRDO, the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE). The test flight took place at a general aviation airfield operated by Taneja Aerospace in Hosur near Bengaluru.

The DRDO declined to provide details of the flight's duration, but said a number of changes have been included since the Rustom 1's first successful test flight in October 2010. Improvements included better aircraft handling during all aspects of flight including take-off, manoeuvring and landing. The Indian army operator said the aircraft handled "without difficulty" during the flight.

The ADE said military payloads will be included in future test flights.

A first test flight of the Rustom was conducted from Hosur in November 2009, but ended when the air vehicle crashed following a "misjudgement of altitude".

The Rustom 1 has a planned endurance of 12-15h, can carry payloads of up to 75kg (165lb) and has a maximum ceiling of 25,000ft (7,620m). The UAV's datalink was designed and developed by India's Defence Electronics Applications Laboratory, while its airframe and most of its electronics were produced by Indian companies.

"This development is the forerunner to the medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV project Rustom H, which the lab will take up shortly," said the ADE in 2010. "It paves the way for the development of unmanned combat air vehicles in India. This UAV can be used by all three of the country's armed services."

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