The Rustom's first flight on 16th Oct 2010. While all went well in this test (making up somewhat for an earlier failed test), the Rustom still remains at an early stage of its development. The DRDO press release is attached (in blue) below:
DRDO TEST FLIES RUSTOM UNMANNED AIRCRAFT
“RUSTOM” the Medium altitude long endurance Unmanned Aircraft being developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment, a premier DRDO lab specializing in UAVs and flight control systems, was successfully flown in its maiden flight. The aircraft was flown in a manner exactly as planned, up to a height of 3000 ft. and remained airborne for 30 minutes and completed all mission requirements. It taxied, took off and landed (among the most challenging maneuvers for a UAV), using a runway at an air field owned by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation (TAAL), Hosur, like a normal aircraft.
Lt Col VS Thapa of Indian army, an experienced External Pilot for UAVs who was situated at the edge of the runway and he controlled it without any difficulty throughout its flight which included the pilot assisted takeoff, flight in air and a copy book style landing. The subsequent flights will test and demonstrate these capabilities such as GPS controlled Way Point Navigation, Get U Home, altitude and endurance parameters, the systems for which have been already incorporated in the aircraft.
Ruston with a designed endurance of 12-15 hour, 25000 ft. altitude ceiling and 75 kg pay load is forerunner to the more advanced Rustom H and UCAV. The data link for this aircraft has been developed by DEAL, another DRDO laboratory and the airframe has been built by Zephyr Aerospace, Coimbatore. Rustom UAV can be used by all the three armed forces of our country. Such Unmanned Aircrafts help to avoid the risk to the human pilots in operations that involve flying in hazardous zones.
Dr. Prahlada, Distinguished Scientist and Chief Controller R&D (Aeronautics & Services Interaction) who was present their briefed the mission details. The flight was witnessed by Dr. G. Elangovan, Distinguished Scientist & CCR&D(R&M), Shri PS Krishnan, Distinguished Scientist & Director ADE, Shri G. Natarajan, Program Director, Shri G. Sreenivasamurthy, Project Director, and, Shri Ajoy Raman, Chairman FRR.
Ravi Kumar Gupta
Scientist G & Director
Directorate of Public Interface,
DRDO Hqrs, Room 117, DRDO Bhavan
Rajaji Marg, New Delhi-110105