Watch: Taxi Trials Of India's SWiFT Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Demonstrator

by Swarajya Staff - Oct 25, 2021 11:55 AM
Watch: Taxi Trials Of India's SWiFT Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle DemonstratorUnmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle Demonstrator
Snapshot
  • Work on the project, which was earlier called AURA (short for Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft), began sometime around 2009.

    The programme is linked to the development of India’s fifth-generation stealth fighter Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft or AMCA.

India’s highly secretive unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) programme, under which a technology demonstrator called stealth wing flying testbed or SWiFT is being developed, has reached a new milestone.

A demonstrator built under the programme has completed low-speed taxi trials. Twitter handle @DefenceReach, which scooped the first pictures of the taxi trials, has now put out a video of the trial on YouTube.

The trial appears to have been conducted on 18 August this year at the Aeronautical Test Range near Challakere in Karnataka's Chitradurga district. The DRDO has not confirmed the date of taxi trials.

Earlier this year, reports said that the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment, a Chennai-based lab of the DRDO, has handed over retractable landing gear systems for SWiFT.

In a technology bulletin released in October 2020, the DRDO had said that it had completed the designing of the landing gear for the programme and the manufacturing of the airworthy components was under progress.

"SWiFT UAV is a Technology Demonstrator and is a scaled-down version of Ghatak UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle). The main intent of SWiFT UAV is to demonstrate and prove the stealth technology and high-speed landing technology in autonomous mode," the DRDO has said.

A model of this platform was recently seen in a video lecture published by the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, which is involved in the fundamental research and testing related to the stealth UCAV programme.

It was most likely a “mockup or a sub-scale flying model” of the SWiFT.

Ghatak’s undercarriage and landing gear were seen in this model, which was sitting in the background as an IIT Kanpur professor delivered a lecture in the institution’s Aeromodelling Lab.

Ghatak is intended to be an unmanned aircraft which can not only be used for surveillance but also to fire precision weapons at designated targets, using its stealth features to avoid detection by enemy sensors in contested airspace.

The Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency is developing the UCAV with participation from the Defence Electronics Application Laboratory and many other labs of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Work on the project, which was earlier called AURA (short for Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft), began sometime around 2009.

The programme is linked to the development of India’s fifth-generation stealth fighter Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft or AMCA.

The Ghatak programme formally received sanction as a ‘Lead-in Project’ in May 2016 and started receiving funding from early 2017, Livefist has reported.

Very little technical detail about the UCAV project is available due to its classified nature. Wrapped in secrecy, the programme is under the direct oversight of the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Security Advisor.

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