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Recent developments in India’s Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) programs have stirred discussions within defense circles. According to prominent defense journalist Anantha Krishnan M, the Rustom-2 Aka TAPAS program faced challenges in meeting the Prescribed Standard Qualitative Requirements (PSQR) set by users. However, despite the setback, the government has reportedly greenlit the continuation of the project under separate DRDO funds. This move aims to address the shortcomings and bring the project in line with user expectations. Additionally, the emergence of the Archer-NG program suggests a new direction in India’s pursuit of advanced UAV capabilities.

Previous reports from had highlighted technical challenges and issues related to the overweight fuselage of the Tapas MALE UAV. Despite concerted efforts by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) along with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), the weight reduction targets remained elusive. The technical hurdles posed significant obstacles to achieving the desired performance parameters.

Amidst the challenges faced by the Tapas program, the development of the Archer-NG has emerged as a noteworthy alternative. This new UAV program by ADE features a Single Engine Twin Boom configuration, offering an optimized design compared to the Tapas. Archer-NG is designed to serve a wide range of missions, emphasizing Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, Tracking, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR). Beyond surveillance capabilities, the drone is also equipped for strike roles, enhancing its versatility on the battlefield.

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