NEW DELHI, May 24 (UPI) -- India's state-run National Aerospace Laboratory will work with Kadet Defense Systems to develop NAL's Hansa trainer aircraft into an unmanned aerial vehicle.
The Hansa is built by Taneja Aerospace and Aviation for NAL and uses Indian-made composite material but mostly imported aeronautic electronics.
The low-wing, tricycle-gear aircraft first flew in the late 1990s and is used mainly by private flying clubs as a trainer.
The aircraft is around 25 feet long and has a wingspan of just more than 34 feet. Cruising speed is 130 mph with a range or more than 500 miles.
The engine is mainly the turbocharged four-cylinder Rotax 914F engine from Austria, similar to that used by the unmanned MQ-1 Predator made by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in the United States.
The later Hansa 4 model has used the SR305-230E diesel engine made my SMA of the French Safran Group.
The plane also can be used for low-level surveillance because of its slow speeds.
But the feasibility of the project is under question, a report by the Indian defense industry news Web site defensenow.com said.
The report said defense analysts have pointed out the two-seater aircraft's high cockpit canopy and less-than-compact overall design would make it unwieldy if it were a UAV.
NAL and Kadet may never get the project off the ground if the NAL's record for keeping to design and production schedules is considered, the defensenow.com report said.
NAL hasn't finished the 14-seater Saras aircraft and also has its hands full with the ongoing development of the Regional Transport Aircraft.
The Saras, being developed by NAL and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, is a domestically designed and manufactured light transport jet aircraft powered by two Pratt and Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engines.
The aircraft's first flight was in 2004 but development suffered a setback when one of the two prototypes crashed near Bangalore in March 2009, killing the two air force test pilots.
An inquiry found that the pilots were attempting to switch off and re-ignite one of the two engines, a report by the Hindu newspaper said in July 2009. Incorrect instructions for the procedure were the cause of the crash, the Hindu report said.
Kadet Defense Systems, which has headquarters in Kolkata, was created in 2005 to manufacture an aerial drone target for the Indian army and has moved into development of UAVs for surveillance and reconnaissance.
Kadet supplies the Ministry of Defense with the company's JX2 Radio Controlled Aerial Target System and Javelin X Aerial Targets.
The Javelin X drone target was the preferred target for the Shilka Anti-Aircraft Gun System upgrade program, which was undertaken by Bharat Electronics and Elta Systems, an Israel Aerospace Industries subsidiary, Kadet's Web site notes.