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DRDO’s Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator

  • Published
    2nd Jul, 2022

In a major breakthrough, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out the maiden test flight of Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator from the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga, Karnataka.

  • The Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator is a precursor to an autonomous stealthy unmanned aerial combat vehicles (UCAV) being developed by the DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), primarily for the Indian Air Force.
    • The UCAV will be capable of launching missiles and precision-guided munitions.
  • The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is powered by a small turbofan engine.
  • It is a reduced sized autonomous aircraft.
    • The engine used is Russian TRDD-50MT originally designed for cruise missiles.
  • Developed by: Assembled, designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru.
    • The airframe, undercarriage and entire flight control and avionics systems used for the aircraft had been developed indigenously.

Flying wing type

  • The flying wing type of aircraft refers to a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which houses its payload and fuel in its main wings and does not have a defined fuselage-like structure found in conventional aircrafts.
  • The ‘flying wing’ is the design of most modern aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles in the world. 


The need (no-import policy)

  • To address the immediate requirement of the Armed Forces, India had procured UAVs from the US under an emergency procurement lease but government has adopted a no- import policy of UAVs.
  • This has spurred the effort towards indigenization where DRDO and industry have demonstrated advanced capabilities.

Significance of the successful flight

  • The flight marks a major breakthrough in developing autonomous technology demonstration under its unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) programme.
  • Indigenization: It is a significant step towards self-reliance in such strategic defence technologies.
  • This is the crucial step for the stealth wing flying testbed.
    • SWiFT UAV is targeted to showcase the capability in developing stealth technology and high-speed landing technology.

About UAVs

  • Drones: It is a layman terminology for Unmanned Aircraft (UA).
  • Originally developed for the military and aerospace industries, drones have found their way into the mainstream because of the enhanced levels of safety and efficiency they bring.
  • A drone’s autonomy level can range from remotely piloted (a human controls its movements) to advanced autonomy, which means that it relies on a system of sensors and LIDAR detectors to calculate its movement.

Advantages for Defence

  • Drone system can be used as a symmetric weapon against terrorist attacks.
  • They can be integrated into the national airspace system.
  • Deployment of drones for combat, communication in remote areas, counter-drone solutions can be done.
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