Warplanes: March 30, 2004


An Indian firm (HAL) has designed, built and tested a new UAV design. Called the Nishant, the unmanned aircraft carries a hundred pound payload (FLIR, camera and laser rangefinder) and can stay in the air for four hours. The Nishant is launched via a catapult mounted on a 14 ton truck. The catapult can operate about a thousand times before it requires major maintenance (replacement of some worn components.) The Nishant lands using a parachute and airbag. Another version of the Nishant, with landing gear, is in development. This version would be able to land and take off largely under control of software. The Nishant is built from reinforced carbon/glass fiber material and propelled by a 55 horsepower engine. In concept, the Nishant is very similar to the French Sprewer UAV. The Indian air force is buying 25 Nishant's from HAL. 


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