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.
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.