Source : IgMp Bureau
Indian Air Force planning to procure 100 Loyal Wingman and Ghatak UCAVs for
In spite of reservations articulated by Air Chief Marshal Vivek R Chaudhari, Chief of the Air Staff, concerning the acquisition of Armed Drones owing to their susceptibility in contested airspace, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is actively delving into the advancement of stealthy Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) and Loyal Wingman systems. This strategic move is driven by the swiftly evolving landscape of contemporary warfare.
The IAF’s strategic outlook is profoundly influenced by the evolving dynamics of warfare, with particular attention to the “Contours of Future Wars” and the ascendancy of multi-dimensional hybrid warfare, as evidenced in recent global conflicts.
A primary objective entails fortifying fighter squadrons, which have experienced diminishment due to fiscal constraints and a protracted modernization process. The principle of “manned-unmanned teaming” is being underscored in both the Loyal Wingman and UCAV initiatives to augment and bolster the capabilities of existing fighter aircraft.
The IAF is presently contemplating the acquisition of more than 100 Loyal Wingman aircraft, a venture being developed in partnership with the Bengaluru-based start-up, NewSpace Research and Technologies (NRT). Notably, the program has already achieved successful testing of a scaled model of the Loyal Wingman aircraft, with plans to conduct tests on a full-scale model post-2025. These aircraft possess the capability to function as loyal companions to manned aircraft while concurrently executing strike missions in contested airspace.
Another substantial UCAV program, spearheaded by the Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), is dedicated to the conception of a 13-ton UCAV, equipped with a Dry Kaveri engine. These UCAVs are earmarked for executing airstrikes in contested airspace and are anticipated to complement the capabilities of the Manned 5th generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) fighter jet, particularly in air superiority missions deep within hostile airspace.
Notwithstanding lingering concerns about the vulnerability of armed drones, the proactive development of stealthy UCAVs and Loyal Wingman systems underscores a concerted effort to effectively address the shifting dynamics inherent to future conflicts.