Indonesia has revised its timetable on the Elang Hitam (Black Eagle) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and now wants to achieve its goal of developing it as an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) by 2022.
The UAV, which is currently in development, is scheduled to have its first flight in January 2021.The original plan was to introduce an unarmed reconnaissance UAV and then start work in 2022 on developing it into an UCAV by 2024. President Joko Widodo’s comments in February this year, that the UCAV will be developed by 2022, indicate that Elang Hitam will be developed directly as a full combat-capable UCAV that will launch a precision strike with guided munitions.
In order to accelerate the development of Elang Hitam into an UCAV, the Indonesian government is looking for weapon systems that will be carried by Elang Hitam, even as development of the UAV continues. Media reports indicate that Indonesia is interested in smart ammunition from Turkey’s Roketsan corporation. The company produces two variants of MAM laser guided glide bomb – the MAM-C with High Explosive (HE) warhead, and the thermobaric warhead MAM-L. The possibility of Elang Hitam carrying other guided rocket types, such as CIRIT from Roketsan, also cannot be discounted.
The locally designed and manufactured Elang Hitam UAV, a Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) drone, is being developed by Konsorsium Pesawat Terbang Tanpa Awak (PTTA – Unmanned Aircraft Consortium). The PTTA consortium was established in 2017 and consists of Research and Development Agency (Balitbang) and Directorate General of Defense Potential (Pothan) under the Indonesian Defense Ministry, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN – joined in 2019) and two state owned enterprises: PTDI and PT Lembaga Elektronika Nasional Industri (PT Len Industri – National Electronic Institute Industry).
Work on the Elang Hitam UAV started in started in 2015 following an agreement between the Research and Development department of the Indonesian Defense Ministry and the Indonesian Air Force. Two models of the UAV were used in wind tunnel tests, the first in 2016 and then in 2018.
On Dec. 30, 2019, inside a hangar located within the PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) complex in Bandung, the consortium unveiled its prototype of the UAV. There are five development stages – Elang Hitam 1 to 5 (EH-1 to EH-5). The development of the UCAV will take place in stages EH-4 and EH-5.
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