|Primary user||Indian Army|
Kapothaka was a technology demonstrator mini-UAV for reconnaissance. The Kapothaka (also spelled Kapothaha) which means “dove” is believed to be a preceder of Nishant UAV system.
Following the successful deployment of a remotely piloted vehicle by Israel during Lebanon war in 1982 Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) undertook the development of a remotely piloted vehicle kapothaka in 1983 to develop the necessary technologies. During the next 4 years ADE developed a small RPV to validate in-flight video transmission capabilities and to implement ground take off and parachute recovery.
Kapothaka had an all-up-weight (AUW) of 130 kg and was powered by an conventional twin boom configuration 26 bhp piston engine. It had a very small, low radar cross-section and was launched from a rail with rocket assistance. The system had a 4.5 meter wingspan, a length of 3.67 meters. Operating ceiling was 3,000 meters. The integral wing-boom-tail unit was made of glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) material whereas the fuselage is a combination of aluminium and GFRP; the aircraft has an endurance of 90 minutes while carrying payload of 20 kg and can achieve a speed of 180 km/hr in flight. It is equipped with TV and panoramic cameras, providing real time imagery intelligence.
This programme enabled ADE to cut teeth on the intricacies of UAV design development and deployment. The endeavour culminated in successful demonstration of aerial reconnaissance using an RPV during Operation Brasstacks in September 1987. Indian Army, impressed by the unique capability provided by an RPV, formulated a "qualitative requirement" for a tactical UAV system for artillery leading to the development of Nishant UAV system.
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