Modern battlefield tactics revolve around real-time information. As the old adage goes, knowledge is power. Conventional wars are giving way to unorganised, unpredictable and decentralised warfare (Link
). Our country has been at the receiving end of militancy in the J&K sector since 1989. To gain the upper hand in such scenarios, UAV's or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, more often referred to as Drones are leading the charge against such militancy.
Rustom is an unmanned aerial vehicle that is currently in development at the Defence Research and Develpment Organisation (DRDO). It is a Medium Altitude-Long Endurance (referred to as MALE) aircraft capable of staying airborne for extended durations ranging from 12 to 24 hours.
In February 2018, the Rustom 2 made its maiden flight. This aircraft is a twin-engined, cantilever monoplane design with a T-tail and tricycle landing gear configuration. The aircraft will be able to carry various payloads depending on mission requirements such as ELINT and SIGINT.
UAV's are not only an additional set of eyes in the sky. They also form a part of the weapons delivery loop. Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) have been effectively used by the USAF in Afghanistan not only due to their effectiveness, but also due to the psychological factor they bring to the theatre. Predator drones provide endurance to allow for extended presence over target for surveillance. They carry enough payload to pack a punch when needed and provide near impunity to the operator. However, it must be kept in mind that this is true due to the asymmetrical war scenario with air superiority where the Predator drones have been operating in.
The effectiveness and psychological power of UAV's and UCAV's are too great to pass on. The Rustom 2 should be ready for production in the coming years where it shall replace the Israeli made UAV's currently operated by the different services of the country.