India has achieved a significant milestone in advancing its capabilities in unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology, as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently conducted a successful flight trial of an autonomous flying-wing technology demonstrator at the aeronautical test range in Chitradurga, Karnataka. It marks a substantial step forward in developing an indigenous high-speed UAV stealth drone.
The Defence Ministry expressed confidence in the country’s technological prowess, stating that the successful demonstration of this autonomous stealth UAV signifies a high level of maturity in India’s technology readiness. By achieving controlled flight in the tailless configuration, India has now joined an exclusive group of nations that have mastered the flying wing technology.
Designed and developed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), this high-speed flying-wing UAV, weighing over a ton, is poised to pave the way for a significant project aimed at developing a remotely-piloted strike aircraft (RPSA) in the coming years. The initial flight of this aircraft took place in July 2022, followed by six additional flight trials in various developmental configurations, utilizing two in-house manufactured prototypes. These trials resulted in notable progress in aerodynamic and control system development, real-time integration, hardware-in-loop simulation, and the establishment of cutting-edge ground control stations, according to the statement.
The aircraft prototype, featuring a sophisticated arrowhead wing platform, is meticulously designed and constructed using lightweight carbon prepreg composite material developed domestically. The composite structure, embedded with fibre interrogators for health monitoring, exemplifies India’s self-reliance (Atmanirbharta) in aerospace technology. The unique capability of autonomous landing, achieved without relying on ground radars, infrastructure, or a pilot, underscores a distinctive demonstration. This capability enables the UAV to take off and land from any runway with surveyed coordinates. This achievement is made possible through onboard sensor data fusion and the utilisation of indigenous satellite-based augmentation, employing GPS-aided GEO-augmented navigation (GAGAN) receivers to enhance the accuracy and integrity of GPS navigation, the statement added.