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The Tapas Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV program, initially rumored to face complete shelving, has now been confirmed by DRDO Chief Samir V Kamat to continue, albeit with a strategic shift. Kamat clarified that the program will transform into a Technological Demonstrator for the Successor Archer-NG, marking a pivotal development in India’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capabilities. This decision reflects DRDO’s commitment to innovation and adaptability in meeting the evolving requirements of the defense forces.

DRDO Chief Samir V Kamat’s announcement quashes media reports about the complete shelving of the Tapas MALE UAV program. Instead, the program will be reoriented as a Technological Demonstrator for the Successor Archer-NG. This shift signifies a forward-looking approach, allowing DRDO to leverage the existing platform for developing and testing advanced technologies that will contribute to the successor UAV program.

Media reports, as covered by, highlighted challenges in the performance of the Tapas UAV, including drag reduction and efforts to eliminate additional weight. Kamat’s statement acknowledges these concerns and emphasizes ongoing measures to enhance the UAV’s capabilities. These improvements aim to meet the qualitative requirements set by the Indian defense services, particularly demonstrating an altitude of 30,000 feet and 24 hours of endurance.

Despite challenges in meeting the qualitative requirements, the Indian Navy has shown its commitment to the Tapas MALE UAV program. The Navy has agreed to procure these UAVs for the surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Andaman Nicobar Islands, even if the UAVs fall short of certain specified benchmarks. This underscores the strategic importance of the UAVs in maritime surveillance and highlights the flexibility of defense procurement in accommodating emerging technologies.

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