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New Flight Test Bed for DRDO
May 24, 2014

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is all set to acquire a new flight test bed (FTB) in the form of a modified and custom-made Dornier (DO-228) aircraft. The DRDO hopes to reduce the dependency on foreign agencies to carry out the tests, once the indigenous FTB is rolled out. The platform is manufactured by Kanpur-based Transport Aircraft Division (TAD) of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

With all modifications, the FTB is expected to cost over 100 crore. Many industries and government firms were on the hunt for a suitable platform to undertake standalone tests of critical components and systems.  With the increase in indigenous aeronautical activities within the country, the initial plan was to go for a foreign aircraft and later equip it with Indian systems.

Embraer was one that looked at. Generally the test and design data of an imported aircraft are not shared owing to the proprietary clause. So the plane to import was shelved and DO-228 was the automatic choice. HAL’s TAD Kanpur have all the expertise available with them in manufacturing the Dorniers.

With the arrival of a new FTB, the DRDO hopes that the development time for various projects will come down. The FTB will come handy for all airborne system evaluations. DRDO hopes to test all systems of Tejas, unmanned air vehicles on the FTB. In addition, radars, antennas, radio altimeters, data links and ATOL systems (automatic take-off and landing) will now take the FTB route. So far some limited Indian radars were tested with Israeli help.

The DRDO has put two consoles on the FTB, with the potential for adding two more. The new FTB is expected to serve the needs to DRDO for the next 20 years.

Currently, the Centre for Airborne Systems, DRDO lab, operates an Avro for limited tests. The new FTB will be on the rolls of Electronics & Radar Development Establishment, another DRDO lab, and it will be flown by the Test Pilots from Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment of the Indian Air Force.



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