The indigenously built unmanned air vehicle (UAV), Nishant opened a new chapter in the history of Indian Aviation on Sunday, when it accomplished its test flight successfully. The Nishants historic took its test flight from an abandoned runway of World War II at a small village named Veerapura, eight kilometres from Kolar in Karnataka.
The rotary engine-powered, Nishant lifted off the ground on early Sunday morning and flew to an altitude of 1.8 kms for 35 minutes. The UAV was recovered safely from dried up Muduvadi Lake, later after 40 minutes. It was the first that a UAV was tested with an indigenous engine. The test flight of Nishant was witnessed by P.S. Krishnan, Director ADE, Dr. C.L. Dhamejani, Director VRDE, and Dr. AR Upadhya, Director NAL, Regional Director RCMA and Regional Director, AQA, and other senior officers.
The DRDOs developmental project, Nishants indigenously built Wankel Rotary engine was originally the project of VRDE, Ahmednagar. It was later developed jointly by NAL, a CSIR laboratory, VRDE, Ahmednagar and ADE, Bangalore. Completely designed and developed indigenously, the Wankel engine is first of its kind in India. Its a high powered engine weighing about 30 Kilograms. With the power of 55 hp, the Wankel engine can also be used to power smaller air vehicles, automotive, Out Board Motors, and Industrial applications. The indigenous Wankel engine will replace the presently imported engine of Nishant.
The certifying agency, RCMA gave the provisional flight clearance for the first indigenous prototype engine. The engine was approved for flight after tough ground endurance test runs. With the successful test flight of UAV Nishant, India has become one of the few countries developing and using this technology in the world. The UAV Nishant has been designed and developed collaboratively by National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a Council of Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR) lab, Vehicles Research and Development Establishment VRDE (VRDE), Ahmednagar and Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bangalore.