Recently Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted the first maiden flight of the Autonomous Flying Wing Technology also known as ‘Ghatak’ at the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga, Karnataka.
In this article, we shall know about the indigenously developed UAV of the DRDO ‘Ghatak’ based on SWIFT technology.
About Ghatak UCAV
Ghatak which is also known as the Combat Drone is an autonomous stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle which is developed by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) which is a part of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). It has been developed for the Indian Airforce.
The Aeronautical Development Establishment is creating the Ghatak, a stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) powered by an autonomous jet engine (ADE). The Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft (AURA) was its original name before being changed to Ghatak UCAV. The Ghatak UCAV will be powered by a dry variant of the Kaveri afterburning turbofan engine, with a thrust of 52 KiloNewton, as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar revealed to Rajya Sabha in 2015.
Defense Electronics Application Laboratory and ADA will design the UCAV’s internal flight control system and data connectivity packages.
Specifications of UCAV
- The UCAV is a “self-defending high-speed reconnaissance UAV with weapon launching capability,” according to the ADA.
- The UCAV will fly at a medium altitude and be equipped with sensors for targeting and weapon guidance as well as the ability to carry two or more guided strike weapons.
- Defense Electronics Application Laboratory and the ADA will develop the UCAV’s flight control system and data link packages.
- The UCAVs will have rail-launching for the missiles, bombs, and PGMs (precision-guided munitions) they will carry, and they will be able to fly at altitudes of 30,000 ft (9,144 m) and weigh less than 15 tonnes.
- If implemented precisely, the design has the ability to provide excellent fuel efficiency and stealth, as evidenced by some of the most advanced bombers in the USA’s arsenal, such as the B-2 bomber, according to DRDO specialists.
- Thrust vectoring, sometimes referred to as push vector control (TVC), is the capacity of an aircraft, rocket, or another vehicle to regulate the attitude or angular velocity of the vehicle by manipulating the direction of the thrust from its engine(s) or motor(s).
In 2020, work on the Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT), a Ghatak UCAV technology demonstration model, began. The SWiFT UAV is designed to develop and demonstrate technologies for regulating the flying wing configuration and flight characteristics at high-subsonic speed, according to DRDO. The SWiFT UAV started conducting ground tests in June 2021, and on October 29, 2021, images and videos of it doing taxi testing leaked online. It resembled the stealth bomber Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit from the US. The SWiFT UAV is 4 meters long and has a 5-meter wingspan. Swift UAV weighs around 1 tonne and is powered by a TRDD-50MT or NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine.
On July 1, 2022, the SWIFT UAV—a Ghatak UCAV technology demonstrator—took its first flight. The DRDO claims that the aircraft flew flawlessly in completely autonomous mode, including takeoff, way-point navigation, and a soft touchdown. The aircraft’s (SWIFT UAV’s) airframe, undercarriage, and full flight control and avionics systems were created domestically. SWIFT may carry forward as a separate project under the unmanned wingman bomber program, in addition to serving as a forerunner for technological advancement associated with the Ghatak project.
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