On December 30, Indonesian Aerospace (PT Dirgantara Indonesia or PTDI) has unveiled a prototype of an indigenously developed medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for which it sees a number of domestic missions. The prototypes dubbed the Elang Hitam (Black Eagle) was unveiled to the public at PTDI facilities in Bandung. The platform is the product of an Indonesian consortium that includes state-owned electronics company PT Len, the Indonesian Air Force (Tentara Nasional Indonesia), and the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lembaga Penerbangan dan Antariksa Nasional or LAPAN) .
The Elang Hitam is 8.65 meters long, 2.6 meters high, and has a wingspan of 16 meters, and it is capable of cruising up to 20,000 feet and at the highest speed of 235 kilometers per hour, and staying in the air for up to 30 hours. The aircraft has a conventional planform with a V-tail, pusher-propeller, a high aspect ratio, and tricycle landing gear. It is envisaged as having a maximum endurance of 30 hours and a cruising speed of 127 knots. The aircraft’s payload will be 300 kg, and it will be able to land on a 700 meters runway, or take-off on a 500 meters runway.
Two unmanned aerial vehicles will be built and used for both flight and structural tests. The company hopes to attain a type certificate from the Ministry of Defence’s Feasibility Centre in 2021, and a full military type certificate by 2023, which will include weapons. Aircraft’s payloads will include a synthetic aperture radar, but the first prototype appears to lack sensors, such as an electro-optical/infrared turret. The aircraft is powered by Rotax engine from Austria. The aircraft can be remotely operated via satellite. Indonesian Aerospace adds that the flight control system is of European origin, coming from Spain.
This unmanned aerial vehicle has incorporated several design aspects of China’s CH-4 UAV. The unmanned aerial is expected to match CH-4 that the Indonesian air force recently purchased and will fill 2 of the military’s future unmanned aerial squadron. While various companies in Indonesia have produced drones for both civilian and military purposes, this would be the first medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV to be produced by the country. The consortium has also been supported by the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan), which is experienced in producing smaller UAVs such as the LSU-02.