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DRDO Rustom (Warrior)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)


The DRDO Rustom series of UAVs is breaking new ground for the Indian aviation industry.

Detailing the development and operational history of the DRDO Rustom (Warrior) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV).  Entry last updated on 3/1/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Despite being one of the largest (if not THE largest) customer of military purchases in the world, the Indian military-industrial complex has been hard at work at developing internal solutions to promote a more self-reliant Indian military inventory. DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) is working on the remotely-piloted "Rustom" Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the Medium-Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) category with prospects for an armed version to evolve. Origins of the program date back to initiatives undertaken in the 1980s and 1990s which have since resulted in a flyable prototype achieving first flight on November 11th, 2009. The Rustom is expected to see three distinct variants as the "Rustom-I", the high-altitude "Rustom-H" and armed "Rustom-II". The Rustom-I will feature a contained mission endurance window of 12 hours while the Rustom-H is said to double that value as well as fly at higher altitudes. The Rustom-II will be the fully-featured, combat-capable UAV (more precisely, a "UCAV" = "Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle") following the form and function of the successful American "Predator" UAV line.

Outwardly, the Rustom prototype shares an appearance not unlike a Burt Rutan light aircraft design. It sports a three-legged, fixed undercarriage, rear-mounted main wing appendages and a canard wing assembly at front. Vertical fins are set at the main wing tips. The powerplant is contained in the aft section of the fuselage driving a two-bladed propeller in a "pusher" configuration. Avionics and mission equipment are housed within the forward section of the fuselage. The payload limit is listed at 165lbs while the empty airframe weighs 1,560lbs. Power is served through an American Lycoming O-320 series 4-cylinder engine of 150 horsepower.

The Rustom-H shares a wholly different physical configuration than the Rustom-I prototype as it sports mid-set, straight main wing appendages, a bulbous nose section (ala the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk), a retractable, three-legged undercarriage and a tapering empennage. The tail unit is of a conventional "T" shape with its high-mounted horizontal tailplane. The payload limit is 770lbs with an empty airframe weight of 4,000lbs while power is served through 2 x Russian NPO-Saturn 36MT series turboprop engines fitted under the wings in nacelles, these engines developing 100 horsepower each while driving three-bladed propellers. The Rustom-H is scheduled for a first flight in 2014.

The Rustom features a maximum speed value of 140 miles per hour with a range out to 220 miles (Rustom-I) and 625 (Rustom-H). The Rustom-I will operate at altitudes of up to 26,000 feet while the Rustom-H will operate closer to 35,000 feet. No specifications are currently available for the Rustom-II UCAV.

As of this writing (December 2013), the Rustom is in active development. The series is intended to replace the Israeli-originated, globally popular IAI "Heron" line of unarmed UAVs in service with the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

November 2016- The Rustom-2 has completed its first-flight (November 17th).

February 2018 - The Rustom-2 product was successfully flown in a production-quality form on February 25th.


YEAR: 2019
STATUS: In-Development
MANUFACTURER(S): Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) / Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) - India
LENGTH: 31.17 ft (9.5 m)
WIDTH: 67.59 ft (20.6 m)
HEIGHT: 7.87 ft (2.4 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 3,968 lb (1,800 kg)
MTOW: 7,716 lb (3,500 kg)
POWER: 1 x Lycoming O-320 engine developing 100 horsepower and driving two-bladed propeller in pusher configuration (Rustom-I); 2 x NPO-Saturn 36MT turboprop engines developing 100 horsepower each (Rustom-H).
SPEED: 140 mph (225 kph; 121 kts)
CEILING: 21,998 feet (6,705 m; 4.17 miles)
RANGE: 217 miles (350 km; 189 nm)
OPERATORS: India (planned)

Generally none for Rustom-I and Rustom-H though the Rustom-II will be an armed UCAV-type aircraft, properly armed for the role.
Variants / Models

• Rustom-I - Prototype Model; medium-altitude version with 12-hour endurance; single Lycoming engine driving two-bladed propeller in pusher arrangement.
• Rustom-H - High-Altitude variant with 24-hour endurance; twin turboprop-powered design.
• Rustom-II - Armed UCAV variant based on the Rustom-H model.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (140mph).

Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the DRDO Rustom-II's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (3)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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