BEL Develops UAV for Securing Airbases and Aerial Reconnaissance

Defence Industry


Bengaluru: In a boost to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) industry in the country, defence PSU Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has developed tethered UAVs which are ideally suited for applications that require more endurance. It is designed to secure airbases which, the officials pointed out, could prevent attacks like the one that took place at Pathankot Air Force Station in 2016. The UAV system can be used for aerial reconnaissance and intelligence gathering as well.

The system consists of a hexacopter, electro-optic payload, auto winching system with tether cable and a ground control station. “It can fly up to 100 metres in height and has electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) sensors. It is capable of surveying up to 2 km of radius in daylight and 1 km at night. It can take image snapshots at any time during the flight and the UAV system is built in a way to withstand harsh environments,” a BEL official said.

Powered by wired cables, it can fly for six hours and it requires an hour for the motors to cool down. If the power gets abruptly disconnected, in-built batteries can continue to power it for another five minutes.

The system can be effectively used for various surveillance and monitoring applications by enhancing its capabilities with the displacement of the electro-optic payload, and has the advantage of long detection ranges. BEL engineers started working on developing the UAV nine months ago.

The defence PSU is also developing Hexacopter-20, a multi-rotor UAV. It is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV capable of performing collaborative missions with other multicopters. Hexacopter can be customised to take and activate desired payloads like HADR (Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief), Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) and microphone depending on the applications required. It has a simple user interface, which can be handled by a single operator.

The UAV has been developed in association with a Bengaluru-based startup. Its capabilities were demonstrated to the Army and the Air Force, and BEL officials said they have expressed interest.