Source : Indian Defence Analysis
CATS Warrior : Indian Ghost Bat to be made by HAL breaks the cover
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has started working on CATS or Combat Air Teaming System concept in early 2019 under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Newspace R&D. HAL has done an initial investment of ₹400 crore in CATS Loyal Wingman & for the first time they have presented a full scale mocked up prototype in Aero India 2021. HAL has also showcased its 4 major components under CATS program in Aero India show 2021 which are the HUNTER an air launched Wingman, The ALFA an air launched Swarms drone, the WARRIOR the loyal Wingman and Infinity Pseudo satellite which is also called HAPS or High Altitude Pseudo Satellite. These all four systems are part Combat Air Teaming and will fly side by side with a combat aircraft which will be manned and will act as a mother ship.
The Preliminary design work for CATS program has been completed and the Tejas twin-seat trainer is being optimized as part of a manned-unmanned teaming concept. The future variants of the Tejas Mk-1A will act as a ‘Mothership for Air teaming eXploitation’ or (MAX) and will be modified with additional command and control interfaces for this purpose. The heavily upgraded IAF Jaguar fighter bomber (called the Jaguar Max) fighters can also undertake the mission together with CATS platform. As per a Newspace official the aircraft is designed in Bengaluru, but the artificial intelligence is being developed in Delhi. The pilot onboard can assign specific tasks to each of these unmanned drones which fly alongside the fighter. These UCAVs can protect the mother-ship from enemy attack and can also engage into attack missions.
The Indian air force and navy have also backed the effort for designated Combat Air Teaming System (CATS).
“CATS Warrior”: The Loyal Wingman Drone
The CATS Warrior which is being developed under CATS program is going to be a low-observable, unmanned wingman, which will be controlled from CATS MAX. It will have 2 variants. The Smaller will be approx 4M long which will for Indian Navy and Larger one is going to be 9M long for Indian Air Force. It would be controlled by the mothership and accomplish tasks such as scouting, absorbing enemy fire, attacking the targets, if necessary, with its internal & external pylons weapons or sacrifice itself by crashing into the target. Warrior will serve as a ‘sensor amplifier’ for the LCA, flying out ahead of the manned aircraft and using its sensors to feed information back to LCA.
CATS Warrior Design
CATS Warrior will follow a semi stealthy design and will have very low RCS because of which it will be difficult for enemy defense system to detect it. Its exhaust will feature chevron nozzle design like Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II to reduce the Jet blast noises & radar emissions. It has a low observable body with twin canted tails.
Looks like a scaled down CATS Warrior. https://t.co/LnFXlo59V8
— Varun Karthikeyan (@Varun55484761) May 28, 2023
The early variant of UAV will be powered by 2 PTA7E engines fed by an S-duct from the top of the fuselage. This engine is capable of generating thrust of around 4 KN only. The later version will be powered by HTFE-25, a 25 kN turbofan under development by HAL which will give enough power to the UCAV to match up the flight performance with modern day fighters. It can cruise at a speed of Mach 0.7 to 0.8 with an endurance of 80mins.
Sensors & Weapons
CATS warrior will be equipped with an electro-optic/infrared payload, Active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, inertial navigational unit, and a jammer for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and combat operations.
The maximum take-off weight of UCAV is going to be 2,100 KG and will have 4 hard points: 2 in its internal weapon bay and two externally with a total capacity of 600KG.
It will be a 25-tonne aircraft with internal payloads of 1,500 kg and exterior payloads of 5,500 kg, as well as internal fuel of 6,500 kg.
It can carry combinations of missiles which includes SAAW(Smart Anti-Airfield Weapons) for ground attack, New Generation Close Combat Missile(NGCCM) for air-to-air engagement and in self-protection role, MBDA’s ASRAAM & AlFA-S Loitering Munition.
The cost of each unmanned wingman is projected to be around $5 million. In the year 2022, it was reported that the CATS Warrior has started its maiden wind tunnel testing and is progressing well on schedule. As per Director of HAL Engineering, Research & Development division Arup Chatterjee, the integration with CATS MAX mothership will take 1-2 years and first flights is scheduled for 2024-25.
Recently, the HAL test pilot Retd Group Captain H.V. Thakur has shared a prototype of HAL CATS Warrior. The size of UAV looks smaller than its actual dimension reported. Its possible this could be the scaled down prototype of the CATS Warrior being used for testing various technologies. IgMp