India Drone Airplane named after a Zarathushti Rustom

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It is a proud event to know that India’s new Drone aircraft
(remote controlled unmanned aircraft) developed by DRDO and that will be
used by India’s armed services, was named RUSTOM, to honor the memory of a
Pasi Zarathushti, the late Prof. Rustom B. Damania, who led the team of
engineers that developed the Light Canard Research Aircraft at the National
Aeronautics Laboratory in India in the 1980s.

I lived with Rustom Damania and a couple other Parsi students in a Parsi
lady’s bungalow in Baroda for a short time in 1959-1960, when we were all
studying at the Engineering college over there. While he joined the Air wing
of the National Cadet Corps, I joined the Rifles unit of NCC. He used to
ride a blue NSU motorcycle (which used the Wankel rotary engine like that
used by Mazda cars). Rustom studied aeronautical engineering in the USA and
then returned to India and worked at the National Aeronautics Laboratory and
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on research projects, and established a
distinguished record of accomplishments.

Rustom also worked as a consultant internationally, before he was diagnosed
with a blood desease. I had offered to donate my bone marrow during a phone
conversation with him (as I was a registered bone marrow donor), and Dolly
Malwa in S. California, had offered to arrange for his stay in California
while undergoing treatment, but he decided not to be a financial burden on
his family, and sadly passed away in 2001. I performed prayers for him
together with another priest as requested by his brother Ardeshir Damania
who is a professor at U.C. Davis in N. California. Rustom also has another
brother Minocheher Damania who lives in India.

Following is an article about this naming of the Drone aircraft as “Rustom”
with a picture of the aircraft that is available on Wikipedia at

Maneck Bhujwala


DRDO Rustom

Rustom mockup at Aero India-09
Role Remote controlled UAV
Manufacturer DRDO
Status In Development
Primary users Indian Air Force
Indian Army, Indian Navy
Developed from NAL LCRA(Light Canard Research Aircraft)

Rustom means warrior in english is a Medium Altitude Long Endurance Unmanned
Aerial Vehicle (UAV) being developed by DRDO for the three services, Indian
Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force of the Indian Armed Forces.[1]
Rustom is derived from the NAL’s LCRA (Light Canard Research Aircraft)
developed by a team under the leadership of late Prof. Rustom B. Damania in
the 1980s. The UAV will have structural changes and a new engine.[2] Rustom
will replace/supplement the Heron UAVs in service with the Indian armed
forces.[3]. The first low speed taxi trials of the first prototype were
carried out on September 22, 2008.

a.. 1 Design and Development
b.. 2 Current Status
c.. 3 Specifications
d.. 4 References
e.. 5 See also
f.. 6 External links

[edit] Design and Development
Rustom’s basic design is derived from the NAL light canard research aircraft
(LCRA). The aircraft has been named after Rustom Damania, a former professor
of IISc, Bangalore who died in 2001. DRDO decided to name the UAV after him
because it is derived from National Aeronautical Laboratories’ light canard
research aircraft (LCRA) developed under Rustom Damania’s leadership in the

With the Rustom MALE UAV project, DRDO intends to move away from traditional
ways of developing products whereby laboratories under DRDO, like the
Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), which is involved in this
project, develop and finalise the product and transfer technology to a
production agency.

DRDO will follow a practice of concurrent engineering where initial design
efforts also take into consideration production issues, with the production
agency participating in the development of the system right from the design
stage. The agency will also follow up issues related to infrastructure and
expertise for the product and its support, thereby overcoming time delays in
crucial projects.[5]

Rustom which has a wingspan of 20 metres and weighs 1,800 kg, will be
launched by the conventional method and not the launcher as in the case of
the Lakshya and Nishant. Rustom will be able to see the enemy territory up
to a distance of 250 km and carry a variety of cameras and radar for

[edit] Current Status
The Indian government has allowed the development of the Rustom MALE UAV
project in association with a production agency cum development partner
(PADP). The ADE officials indicated that the requests for proposals (RFP)
would shortly be issued to four vendors which are the Tatas, Larsen and
Toubro, Godrej and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-Bharat Electronics (joint
bid) who were chosen out of the 23 firms that responded.

Currently, negotiations are underway between these companies and the three
Indian armed forces since the private majors are looking for support and
commitment from them before they start executing any development and
production plans. This is because of the fact that the chosen PADP will also
have a financial stake in the Rustom project. The Armed Forces would also be
asked to take up a financial stake and the Indian government may have to
guarantee that a specific number of Rustom UAVs will be bought.[7]

A prototype to validate the technology for the project has been built and
the taxi trials has been completed.[8]

First flight of Rustom-I took place on 16-11-2009 at the Taneja Aerospace
Air Field near Hosur. The demonstration resulted as the prototype crashing
to the ground. Stated by the DRDO, the taxiing and takeoff was exactly as
planned. Due to misjudgment of altitude of the flight, the on-board engine
was switched off through ground command which made the on-board thrust
developed to go to zero. [9] Despite the mishap, the state-owned Defence
Research and Development Organisation stated: “The flight proved the
functioning of a number of systems such as aerodynamics, redundant flight
control, engine and datalink, which go a long way towards the development of
a complex UAV.”

At least 10 more test flights of the Rustom design are expected before the
system can be taken up for production. The test work is being performed
using a sub-scale version of the air vehicle (Rustom-I TD) with a 1.5m
(4.9ft) wing span and an overall length of 3m.

[edit] Specifications
General characteristics

a.. Crew: none
b.. Length: ()
c.. Wingspan: 20 m (65.616 ft)
d.. Height: ()
e.. Empty weight: 1,800 kg (3968.32 lbs)
f.. Powerplant: 1× , ()

a.. Maximum speed: 225 km/h (139.81 mph)
b.. Range: 350 km ()
c.. Service ceiling: 35,000 ft (10,000 m)
1.. ^ Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAV Rustom
2.. ^ Chapter 9 : NAL and Trainers:ACIG
3.. ^ India joins select group to develop UCAV technology
4.. ^
5.. ^
6.. ^
7.. ^
8.. ^ Significant step toward indigenous UAV
9.. ^

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