DRDO Reaches Major Milestone in Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Development: Explained

The technology that was tested on Friday is a prototype of the upcoming Ghatak combat drone, which is being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO. This flight test was of a scaled-down prototype while a full-scale prototype is expected by 2024-25.

India has moved closer to manufacturing its own combat drones for the armed forces after the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully tested the autonomous flying wing technology demonstrator on the Chitradurga aeronautical test field in Karnataka. This is an important step as it not only bolsters India’s technological prowess, but adds to the essential firepower needed for modern warfare.
The war in Ukraine highlighted the role of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) and aircraft in a conflict situation.

The technology that was tested on Friday is a prototype of the upcoming Ghatak combat drone, which is being developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO. This flight test was of a scaled-down prototype while a full-scale prototype is expected by 2024-25.

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The plane is also called Stealth Wing Flying Testbed, or SWiFT. The July flight test analyzed the UACV’s ability to take off, climb to altitude, navigate in flight, navigate to waypoints, descend and land autonomously. The SWiFT UCAV at this stage of development is being tested to prove stealth technology and high-speed landing technology in autonomous mode.

Last year, the platform had completed taxi trials in September.

Following the flight test, ADE will carefully study the data to refine future prototypes and improve performance. Researchers will examine the performance of the aircraft’s autonomous take-off and landing technology, retractable landing gear system and radar signature.

This will inform the changes and the plane will go through at least 10 more iterations before the final version is ready, according to aviation experts.

Once the capacity of the SWiFT platform is out of the question, only then will the government grant funding for the development of full fledged Ghatak UCAVs.

What is the SwiFT platform?

SwiFT is the acronym for Stealth Wing Flying Testbed. It is a technology demonstrator, and as the name suggests, it is intended to develop technologies for the final Ghatak UCAV which is an autonomous stealth UCAV, developed primarily as a stealth bomber under what is touted as India’s top-secret unmanned combat aerial vehicle program. .

SWiFT is approximately 13 feet long, with a wingspan of over 16 feet. It is believed to weigh around 2,300 pounds.

SWiFT is powered by an NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine, which is manufactured by NPO Saturn Russia, to power advanced trainers, light attack aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Reports indicate that it will be replaced later by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) Small Turbo Fan (STFE).

SwiFT incorporates the “flying wing” design as most stealth aircraft do. It is tailless and has fixed wings with no fuselage and directs its trajectory by balancing its airflow and center of gravity, eliminating the need for a tail. Its payload, fuel and equipment are housed inside the main wing structure. Scientists say this design ensures optimal fuel utilization and stability for the aircraft.

The latest UCAV will be capable of launching precision-guided missiles and munitions. ADE is also reportedly designing a deck variant for the Indian Navy.

DRDO said in a press release: “Operating in fully autonomous mode, the aircraft exhibited perfect flight, including take-off, waypoint navigation and a smooth landing. The aircraft is powered by a small The airframe, landing gear and all of the flight controls and avionics systems used for the aircraft were developed locally.

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