Bangalore, India-based Dynamatic Technologies is co-developing a new generation lightweight unmanned aerial system (UAS) with AeroVironment of the U.S. It is named the Cheel (Hindi for Eagle) and will be based on AeroVironment’s proven expertise, with the design evolving from the 5 kg Raven and 12 kg Puma UAS. The project is one of the six “pathfinder projects” identified under the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) earlier this year.
“The first Cheel will fly eleven months after formal approval,” Udayant Malhoutra, Dynamatic CEO and managing director told AIN. The Indian company is already a supplier to Airbus, Bell and Boeing and has built an advanced avionics and communications laboratory; payload development facility; composites facility; and an assembly and testing facility for small UAS in Bangalore.
Denying recent media reports that the Indian Army had rejected the Raven, Malhoutra said that the Cheel would be different from the Raven. “It has a different signature incorporating the engineering capability of Dynamatic,” he said. Tom Cunningham, AeroVironment'’s vice president for strategic partnerships, said last February at the Bangalore airshow: “We’re going to take the form factor of Raven and add some features of Puma. We’re moving the propeller forward…it will fly higher with longer wings, and be easy to launch.” AIN understands that the Cheel will have solar power from wing panels, a development that is foreseen for the Puma on AeroVironment’s website.
The Puma is designed for land-based and maritime operations and the Cheel will similarly be capable of landing in water or on land. It will also have the Puma’s precision navigation system with secondary GPS, which provides greater positional accuracy and reliability. The Cheel will be operated from a ground control station (GCS) that is compatible with all AeroVironment’s tactical ISR UAS. Dynamatic has conducted a number of trials of these UAS in mountainous, desert and jungle terrain along with homeland security-related forces, to check vagaries of the environment and to evaluate the needs of users. The Indian company was also involved in a U.S.-India exercise using the Raven UAS.
While the Cheel is the designated project under the DTTI, “the partnership with AeroVironment is for a family of UAS…[we will] create variants that offer a range of capabilities,” said Malhoutra. The partnership is exclusive. On the possibility of extending it to the Global Observer high-altitude long-endurance UAS being developed by AeroVironment, Malhoutra said, “Potentially we can work on anything. There has to be business rationale for both [companies].”