Wednesday, February 16, 2011

India to develop indigenous Aerostat 'Nakshatra'

If you thought the white surveillance flight balloon at Aero India 2011 was huge, there's something bigger on the cards. The initial success of 'Akashdeep' has shown the way for a bigger and better indigenous 'Nakshatra'. This new aerostat system will be built to track a 450km radius -- that's approximately four times the present 110km radius surveillance track of Akashdeep!

The surveillance system to be developed by Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment ( ADRDE), Agra, can be tested up to 4.5km altitude, with a payload capacity of 800kg to 1 tonne and 17,000 cubic metre volume. "The project is now on the drawing board stage. Once finalized, it will take us five years to complete the Nakshatra for service," Wing Commander A Marwah, mission coordinator for Aerostat, said.

Elaborating plans for the medium-range Akashdeep, he said the technology is ready and has been successfully tested at Agra for a height of 1km with a 300kg payload capacity. "We have now achieved the technology. It's perfect for use along borders, coastal areas and in areas of low-intensity conflicts. US and Russia have also shown interest in exchanging technical know-how," Marwah added. There are also plans to modify the existing model before replicating it in other areas.

Akashdeep is now stationed for demonstration at the Yelahanka Air Force station for Aero India 2011. It's among the biggest flying objects here and took over five days to be transported from Agra. However, competition for air space at the show left it with very little time for any detailed operational demonstration to the crowd. Even on Saturday, there was only an hour's time between air displays for a technical demonstration. In the past four days, it has been demonstrated only up to a maximum height of 80m. Going higher will require more time.

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