India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out the maiden flight of its Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator on July 1. The sortie took place from the Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga, Karnataka.
Operating in a fully autonomous mode, the DRDO said that the unmanned air vehicle carried out a perfect flight, including take-off, way point navigation and a smooth touchdown. This flight marks a major milestone in terms of proving critical technologies towards the development of future unmanned aircraft and is significant step towards self-reliance in such strategic defence technologies, said the DRDO.
The UAV was designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) at Bengaluru, the primary research laboratory of the DRDO. It is powered by a small turbofan engine. The airframe, undercarriage and entire flight control and avionics systems used for the aircraft were developed indigenously.
This UAV is a scaled-down version of the larger, stealthy Ghatak unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that has been under development for many years by the ADE for the Indian Air Force. Precise details of the project are classified, although DRDO’s chief controller, research and development (aeronautics), has previously said it would be powered by a 52kN dry thrust variant of the indigenous GTRE Kaveri engine, which was originally designed to power the HAL Tejas Light Combat Aircraft. It will weigh less than 15 tonnes and fly at up to 30,000ft (9,144m), with the capability to launch missiles, bombs and precision-guided munitions.