DRDO successfully test flies flying-wing UCAV

by Akhil Kadidal & Akshara Parakala

An image of the first SWiFT UCAV subscale prototype, which is a tailless design. The aircraft's electro-optical/infrared system is above the engine intake. A conformal antenna is also seen at the rear of the fuselage. The second prototype, with a tailfin, underwent a successful flight test on 1 July 2022. (Defence Research and Development Organisation)

India's Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) has successfully flown for the first time.

In a statement on 1 July, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) said that the UCAV was flown by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from its Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, in the southern state ofKarnataka, the same day.

The subscale aircraft is a technology demonstrator for India's UCAV programme, known as the Ghatak (Lethal).

“Operating in a fully autonomous mode, the aircraft exhibited … take-off, waypoint navigation, and a smooth touchdown,” the PIB statement said. “This flight marks a major milestone in terms of proving critical technologies towards the development of future unmanned aircraft.”

The aircraft, designed and developed by the DRDO's Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), is also known as the Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT) .

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QNu Labs to deliver quantum communication systems to Indian Army

by Oishee Majumdar

The Indian Army has signed a deal to procure QNu Labs' Armos QKD system. The system includes a pair of ‘Armos boxes' (pictured above), placed at each end of the network, Gupta told Janes . (QNu Labs)

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to procure quantum key distribution (QKD) systems from Bangalore-based QNu Labs to enhance secured communication for the Indian Army.

CEO and co-founder of QNu Labs, Sunil Gupta, confirmed to Janes that the company has secured a contract to provide its ‘Armos' QKD system to the Indian Army.

Armos is an appliance that protects sensitive data by leveraging quantum mechanics to create and transmit secure encryption keys for symmetric cryptography.

The introduction of quantum computers has made it possible to break the mathematical complexity used in traditional encryptions, Gupta told Janes on 16 August. Therefore, the new generation of data security or encryption “is trying to move away from mathematics to physics”, he added.

“We [QNu Labs] use principles of quantum physics to build a security that is unbreakable even by quantum computers,” Gupta said.

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France completes Mali withdrawal

by Jeremy Binnie

The last helicopter hangar at the French base in Gao is taken down (a photograph released on 7 August). (Armée Française - Opération Barkhane)

The French military announced on 15 August that it has completed its withdrawal from Mali, saying the last unit from its main base at Gao had crossed into Niger earlier that day.

It said that the “major logistical challenge” was completed in less than six months after it was ordered by President Emmanuel Macron on 17 February and stressed that it remained committed to fighting terrorism in the Sahel in close co-ordination with its African partners.

The decision to withdraw from Mali was prompted by successive coups in Bamako in 2020 and 2021 and the resulting military-led transitional government's decision to turn to Russia for support. Meanwhile, there has been growing popular resentment of the French military presence and the perceived lack of progress it had made against the various militant groups operating in Mali since the intervention to stabilise the country in 2013.

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Australia plans to drop PC-21 from attack controller training

by Akhil Kadidal

RAAF Pilatus PC-21 aircraft from No 4 Squadron are working with the Royal New Zealand Air Force to enhance New Zealand's Joint Terminal Attack Controller training. However, Australia is likely to drop the PC-21 from future JTAC training because of the aircraft's limitations. (LACW Catherine Kelly/Commonwealth of Australia)

Australia is “developing options” to better meet Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) training.

The country's JTAC training programme is being sustained by 49 Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft serving with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). However, Australia's Department of Defence (DoD) told Janes that the PC-21 is only able to “satisfy up to 80% of JTAC training system live-fly requirements”.

“It does not have the ability to provide the live weapons passes needed to complete initial, currency, and proficiency training,” the DoD added.

The need for another option appears to have been highlighted amid the RAAF's deployment of a detachment of PC-21s from No 4 Squadron to New Zealand. The aircraft are participating in a combined training exercise with the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) from 8 to 19 August.

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India's Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) has suc...

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