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) .
Janes has identified two SWiFT prototypes. The first prototype appears to be a flying-wing design. The second prototype is equipped with a tailfin.The video of the flight test provided by the DRDO shows the second prototype was flown on 1 July. This is likely because of continuing challenges faced by the DRDO in achieving flight stability of the aircraft.
Design images in 2018 showed that the aircraft was powered by a domestically developed Kaveri turbofan engine. However, Janes assesses the demonstrator is very likely