The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has flight-tested the advanced pilotless target aircraft (PTA) Lakshya-II at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) near Balasore in Odisha, India.

The Indian Defence Ministry, said: "The entire flight was pre-programed and was totally successful. In a flight lasting over 30 minutes, it was made to dive down from an altitude of 800m to just 12m and maintained the required altitude for the specified time before demonstrating auto climb-out."

The Lakshya-II performed several manoeuvres and managed to fly at a very low altitude of 15m above sea level, simulating the trajectory of low-level cruise missiles. The pilotless aircraft also validated several technologies and subsystems, including software correction to the auto rudder scheme done in order to prevent loss of mission.

The drone engaged and flew in way point navigation mode while carrying two targets. One of the targets was fired and the other was deployed while way point navigation was on during the test flight. Designed and developed by Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of the DRDO, the Lakshya-II remote-piloted system has increased payload capacities and longer flight duration. The system provides realistic, towed aerial sub-targets for live fire training.

The aircraft’s nose cone design enables it to absorb the impact of landing and minimises damage. The flight path may be controlled or pre-programmed based upon the type of mission. The remote-piloted system can be deployed on the ground or launched from a ship’s zero-length launcher and recovered by a two-stage parachute system developed by ADE, for land or sea based recovery.