Maiden flight of the Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator was carried out successfully by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga, Karnataka today.
According the DRDO officials, operating in a fully autonomous mode, the aircraft exhibited 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. Secretary, Department of Defence R&D & Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy called the Technology Demonstration as a significant step towards self-reliance in such strategic defence technologies.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is designed & developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru, which is a research laboratory of 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.
DRDO has already completed the designing of the landing gear for the programme. “The fundamental research and testing related to the stealth UCAV programme has been a priority”, DRDO said. As the programme is under the direct oversight of the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Advisor, Demonstrator is poised to scale up its advanced capabilities. The elements of stealth technology are one of the critical areas for the next generation combat jet projects which also include the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are an integral part of the 21st warfare. This a greater thrust for The Ghatak project which has been top priority.
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.