Source : Indian Defence Analysis
One More Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT) under development by HAL, first picture of SWiFT breaks cover
On 13th March 2023, Turkey has unveiled its first stealth unmanned aircraft Anka-3. Recently, HAL’s test pilot Harsh Vardhan Thakur has shared a picture of SWiFT UAV which is under development. While the airframe of the stealth UAV is ready, many parts are still under process of integration. The UAV is being built by HAL and production of one more SWiFT is a positive indication towards the development of Stealth UAV program. This program is extremely critical for DRDO as it’s going to be the technology incubator for the futuristic development of stealth & unmanned aircraft programs of India.
Stealth Wing Flying Test-bed (SWiFT)
As per DRDO, Stealth Wing Flying Test-bed (SWiFT) is an indigenously developed system with an objective of bridging the technology gaps towards design and development of an indigenous Futuristic Unmanned Fighter Aircraft (FUFA). This technology is the lead-in for the national goal to develop a Futuristic Unmanned Fighter Aircraft. SWiFT is also a “scaled-down version” of Ghatak – which is going to be a bigger UCAV. SWiFT is being developed to prove the unmanned, stealth and high-speed autonomous landing technology.
SWiFT uses indigenous systems for Navigation, guidance and Control, indigenous Flight Control Computer and all the other Avionics systems. The Control Law and the software are developed and tested in-house.
SWiFT has all up weight of 1100kg. It has a wingspan of 5 metres and has length of 4 meters. It will have a range of 250 km in LoS. The UAV has service ceiling of 6KM with endurance of 1 hour. At present, SWIFT is powered by a Russian NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine. The plan is to replace it by Manik Small Turbofan Engine (STFE) at later stage which is undergoing test on Indigenous Technology Cruise Missile (ITCM) cruise missile. It has cruising speed of 0.6 Mach. The UAV has two hard points each capable of carrying 50 kg payload.
On 1st of July 2022 SWIFT took its first flight at Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, Karnataka. In the trial it proved its take-off and landing capabilities. SWiFT can auto take-off and land at a speed of 70m/sec.
Ghatak Stealth UCAV
Ghatak will be India’s stealthy combat UCAV. Its design is based on the flying wing concept, which is a tailless and undefined fuselage concept. One of the most important characteristics of the UCAV will be stealth. As per DRDO, 70% of its stealth will be achieved due to the design i.e., shape of the UCAV. The remaining 30% stealth will be achieved by using Radar Absorbent material, radar-absorbent coating & RF reduction techniques. The UCAV will have internal weapons bay, in fact many of its features will be common to the AMCA project being developed DRDO. It will be able to carry various types of missiles, bombs and PGMs (precision-guided munitions).
Ghatak will have on-board mission computers, data links, fire control radars, identification of friend or foe, and collision avoidance systems. It will be capable of flying at altitudes of 30,000 ft and weighing less than 15 tonnes.
The UCAV will be powered by a dry variant of Kaveri engine. This variant will have the core of the turbofan engine; however, it will not have a after burner section. The engine can generate thrust of 46kN and has a maximum weight of 1,180 kg. DRDO is planning to complete its development in next 2 years. As per report from The Financial Express:
“The full-scale prototype of the Ghatak UCAV will be put under test by the end of 2025. The Indian Navy is also interested in procuring deck-based UCAVs for Aircraft Carriers and Landing Platform Docks.”