New Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator
New Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator
Published 13th Jul, 2022
Recently, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) carried out the maiden test flight of a new unmanned Aerial Vehicle, an Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator.
Overdependence on the Soviet Union, brought about a change in India’s approach to defenceindustrialisation from licence based production to production based on indigenous design.
From the mid-1980s, the government pumped resources into R&D to enable the DRDO to undertake high profile projects.
A significant beginning in defenceindigenisation was made in 1983,when the government sanctioned the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) to develop five missile systems:
Trishul (the naval version of Prithvi)
Agni Ballistic missiles with different ranges, i.e. Agni (1,2,3,4,5)
However, the indigenous efforts were not adequate to meet the requirements of the armed forces. This resulted in the shift of focus towards co-development and co-production in partnership with foreign companies.
A beginning was made in 1998, when India and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement to jointly produce Brahmos supersonic cruise missile.
Apart from Russia, India has also partnered with other countries such as Israel and France for a number of projects.
What is Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator?
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-50MToriginally 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.
What is the need?
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.
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 test bed.
SWiFT UAV is targeted to showcase the capability in developing stealth technology and high-speed landing technology.
What is Autonomous Flying Wing Technology?
It's an Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) or a combat drone that is a flying wing type.
It refers to a tailless fixed-wing aircraft that houses its payload and fuel in its main wings and does not have a defined fuselage-like structure found in conventional aircraft.
The design has the potential to deliver high fuel efficiency and stability if executed with precision.
Mapping of Landslide Affected Area
Infested Crop Damage Assessment
Large Scale Mapping
Traffic Monitoring and Management
Reducing Fiscal Deficit: India is the second largest arms importer in the world (after Saudi Arabia).
Higher import dependency leads to increase in the fiscal deficit.
Despite having the fifth largest defence budget in the world, India procures 60% of its weapon systems from foreign markets.
Security Imperative: Indigenisation is needed in order to avert the threats associated with the frequent ceasefire violations like that of the Uri, Pathankot and Pulwama attacks.
India being surrounded by porous borders and hostile neighbours needs to be self -sufficient and self-reliant in defence production.
Employment generation: defence manufacturing will lead to the generation of satellites industries that in turn will pave the way for generation of employment opportunities.
As per government estimates, a reduction in 20-25% in defence related imports could directly create an additional 100,000 to 120,000 highly skilled jobs in India.
Strategic Capability: self-Sufficient and self-reliant defence industry will place India among the top global powers.
Nationalism and Patriotism can increase with indigenous production of defence equipment that in turn will not only boost the trust and confidence of the Indian forces but will also strengthen a sense of integrity and sovereignty in them.
Present developments in Defence sector
INS Vikrant, also known as Indigenous Aircraft Carrier 1 (IAC-1), is the first aircraft carrier to be built in India for the Navy.
Tejas aircraft: DRDO is not able to develop its indigenous Kaveri engine due to restricted access to high-end defence technology by countries such as USA, JAPAN etc.
Project75:Indian Navy in 2017 initiated submarine programme called Project-75 (India), the "mother of all underwater defence deals" with France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Spain and Japan to build six advanced stealth submarines.
Project 75 Submarines INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, INS Vela, S53, S54 and S55are constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited and designed by French company DCNS in Mumbai.
Long-range artillery gun "Dhanush": first indigenous long-range artillery gun also called the "desi Bofors".
Arihant: first indigenous nuclear submarine was developed in association with BARC and DRDO.
The Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher: was developed by armament Research Development Establishment (Pune).
Supersonic Cruise Missile BRAHMOS: is a Joint Venture between India and the Russian federation.