Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: India's Akashdeep is ready: DRDO's Agra lab tests critical surveillance technologies successfully on Aerostat

Monday, December 27, 2010

India's Akashdeep is ready: DRDO's Agra lab tests critical surveillance technologies successfully on Aerostat

DRDO is scheduled to demonstrate the features of its Aerostat (Akashdeep) in Agra to the Media on December 28. Photos: Tarmak007
The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)’s Agra-based lab  -- the Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment (ADRDE) – has successfully tested and flown some critical technologies on Aerostat(s) developed for various surveillance purposes.
ADRDE Director Balraj Gupta confirms to Aviation Week\Tarmak007 on December 27 that the scientists have completed successful testing of electro-optical payload and COMINT (communication intelligence) systems onboard the Aerostat, which carries the Indian name Akashdeep. “We are planning to conduct a live trial of Akashdeep for a select-group of media and invitees tomorrow (December 28). We have a blanket clearance to go up to a maxim altitude of 100 m and above that we need special clearances from the local Indian Air Force station here,” Balraj said.
The lab has been working in the field of parachutes, lighter than air (LTA) systems, floatation systems and aircraft arrester barriers for a long time now. It has also developed and supplied various types of parachutes for wide range of applications, like: paradropping men\weapons\combat vehicles and stores etc. The lab has also supplied braking systems for fighter aircraft, recovery of payloads pertaining to missiles, UAV and spacecrafts.
Over the last few years, ADRDE has diversified in the field of LTA technologies and developed small and medium size Aerostats. “Recently, we have successfully test flown a medium-sized, helium-filled Aerostat up to one km at Agra. A number of state-of-the-art technologies have been developed for the platform, including aerodynamic design of balloon, fabrics, fabrication, hydraulic winch, electro optic tether, high pressure helium cylinder manifold and active pressure control system,” Balraj said.
Bangalore head-quartered Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and its Hyderabad division played a pivotal role in the development of Aerostat along with a multiple DRDO labs and large\medium-sized industrial partners in India.
The complete balloons systems, ground based command and control systems, and payloads have been integrated for full exploitation. The gimbals, with 360 degree azimuth freedom and high degree freedom in elevation is highly stabilized and can carry out steering, scanning and tracking with high precision. The payload also carries thermal camera for surveillance during night and in low visibility condition.  The electronic intelligence payload carries a communication intelligence system for capturing and analyzing all types of communications in air.
A DRDO official attached to its HQ in New Delhi says that the payload for the Aerostat was taken from India’s Nishant UAV for technology demonstration. “We are working on independent systems and payloads for the Aerostat, but our mission was to prove the effectiveness of these platforms and our capabilities. We are now confident that the platforms can take the actual payload and beam output through various sensors,” the official said.
Aviation aficionadas will get an upclose of the home-grown Aerostat during the 2011 Aero India. ADRDE is also in the process of exploiting this airborne platform with radar payloads, too. “In future, in addition to Indian armed forces, these platforms will also be used for civilian applications and disaster management,” says sources.

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