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India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) is gearing up for the next chapter in its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program with the upcoming Archer-NG. This indigenously developed Weaponized Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV promises to be a game-changer, offering advanced capabilities for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Tracking and reconnaissance (ISTAR) missions and even venturing into strike roles.

At the heart of Archer-NG lies a powerful engine, crucial for its impressive performance. Initially, the UAV will be powered by an Austro Engine 330EP, generating 177 HP. However, the true potential lies in the indigenous engines being developed by the Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (VRDE).

The Indigenous 180HP Engine, presently in the testing phase, represents a significant stride in India’s journey towards indigenous defence capabilities. Developed by VRDE, this engine is specifically tailored for the Archer-NG, promising enhanced performance and reliability. The testing phase, which includes integration into the Tapas Airframe, marks a critical milestone in ensuring the engine’s seamless compatibility with the UAV’s design and operational requirements.

In a forward-looking approach, the Archer-NG is set to offer a dual-engine configuration, providing operators with the flexibility to choose the powerplant that best aligns with mission objectives. Alongside the Indigenous 180HP Engine, VRDE is also in the initial stages of designing a potent 220HP Engine. This dual-engine capability underscores the adaptability of the Archer-NG, catering to a spectrum of operational needs.

The combination of powerful engines and a robust airframe allows Archer-NG to reach impressive altitudes. With a service ceiling of 30,000 feet, it can effectively survey vast areas and gather critical intelligence from a safe distance. Simulations have even hinted at the possibility of reaching 32,000 feet, a testament to the UAV’s exceptional performance.

While ISTAR missions remain a core focus, Archer-NG’s weaponization capabilities add another layer of versatility. The UAV can be equipped with various armaments, including electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) pods, laser designators, and even air-to-surface missiles. This offensive potential makes Archer-NG a valuable asset for the Indian Air Force, able to not only gather intelligence but also neutralize threats with precision.

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