Indian Defence

In Detail: Meet India’s Mighty Drone Army !!!

The upcoming era of fights involve a lot more influence of Artificial-Intelligence and machines this is done to reduce the Human Damage in War, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle {UAV’s} or drones are a perfect demonstration of AI and the latest technologies. The next-generation aircraft whether Tempest or AMCA MK-2 will also have unmanned flying options so it would be no wrong to call them a ‘Large Drone’, Drones can be used in low conflict areas and the importance of drones was seen by the world during the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, India either operates or is developing the world’s most advanced Drones, The detailed analysis of some of India’s most advanced attack drones is here:

Recent Scale Model Of a UAV/UCAV In IIT-Kanpur Lab Which Is Predicted To Be GHATAK UCAV

THE GHATAK UCAV – The GHATAK UCAV (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle) program is one of the most secret program done by India, this UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is developed for Indian Air Force and it might play the role of next-generation unmanned fighter jet also, ADA (Aeronautical Development Agency) along with IIT Kanpur and Bombay are working on its design:-

EARLY DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT – For the first time information was released about this project in 2009 when in the same year ₹ 12,500 Crores were given for initial feasibility study which was done by ADA and it was completed in the year 2013 earlier this project was named as AURA(Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft) and was expected to be a next-generation Unmanned Aircraft and later it was named as GHATAK by watching its strike capabilities and from the very beginning this was expected to an Unmanned Armed Aerial Vehicle which was a surprising thing because all the platforms like this before it was made for reconnaissance purpose and from very beginning few major things which were ensured during the development of GHATAK were that it would be Autonomous, Stealthy and Armed because of which it got a Flying Wing Design and being Autonomous was one of the most important things in this program because it meant that the drone will be able to take a decision on its own. The government of India later in 2016 sanctioned ₹ 231 Crore for this program.

TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATOR– In 2018 again a big update came for India when the GHATAK was planned to step in reality by its prototype named SWiFT (Stealth Wing Flying Test-Bed), it will be a 1 Ton version which is mainly made to test RCS (Radar Cross Section ) of the plane and its construction has been started and its first flight is expected by 2021 however many expert suggest that the real GHATAK UCAV will fly in 2025 or 2026, the SWiFT will be powered by Russian NPO Saturn 36MT Turbofan engine it’s the same engine used in Nirbhya cruise missile, SWiFT is mainly developed to test all the technologies that would be used in GHATAK UCAV which will weight around 8 TON’s.

ARMAMENTS– The category in which GHATAK UCAV is developed seems to carry 2 bombs at a time which questions its utility but we need to understand that these type of machines in a mission are not operated in a small number, they usually attack in a group further many links are also being found out between the AMCA and GHATAK UCAV because of the same time in which they are planned if AMCA and GHATAK really have some link then AMCA MK-1 will have Tempest (a sixth-generation aircraft) like capabilities.

Kaveri Engine

ENGINE– The most controversial part of this UCAV is its engine because of the reason that India on one way towards indigenization should have used any Indian engine in this, but in SWiFT a Russian built engine is used however in a far bigger GHATAK the dry Kaveri Engine is expected to be used for which the govt. sanctioned 3000 Crores for it but the problem with this Kaveri-engine is that Kaveri doesn’t give enough thrust as it was needed by UCAV and originally the engine was developed for Tejas so here rises a huge question about the engine which is to be used in UCAV however, DRDO along with Rolls-Royce is also developing a next-generation engine which can produce a thrust between 110-130Kn is meant to be used in AMCA-MK2 and probably here also.

CONCLUSION -The Ghatak UCAV program is one of the most secret and dangerous programs ever done by India, If it is able to be completed along with the deadlines then it would be a huge success as India will join an elite list of countries which have successfully made a mighty next-generation UCAV and China is NOT in that list hence it is also an opportunity to get technological advancement over China, The chances of program being delayed are low because of involvement of IIT’s and latest news about this program came a week earlier which is that the expression of interest has been released which in simple words means that A TENDER IS OUT FOR GHATAK UCAV also according to many reports Indian Navy is also interested for such type of UCAV which can be launched from Aircraft Carrier however such an upgrade will take a lot of time and development.

Rustom Drones

Rustom-2 Drone

RUSTOM DRONES- Rustom drone is developed by DRDO and has three variants which are Rustom-1, Rustom-H, and Rustom- 2, now the Rustom -2 is the most advanced drone among all three because of the reason that its India’s first MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) drone, it is derived from other variants of Rustom and we could see Rustom-1 as a technology demonstrator for other variants to check how well the sensors and other instruments works, however without a doubt Rustom-1 itself is a complete drone but it comes with limitations of Altitude and Range.

RUSTOM-2 Also known as India’s own predator drone is renamed as TAPAS-BH-201 (Tactical Airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance-Beyond Horizon-201) made its maiden flight on 25 February 2018

PAYLOAD– The Rustom-2 can carry a maximum payload of 350 Kg’s which includes Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) which helps it to form a 2-D or 3-D image of the ground, Maritime Patrol Radar which is an airborne radar system for search and recuse missions, Medium and Long-range Electro-Optic (MREO and LREO) sensor which help the drone to record videos and capture images which are carried under the nose of the Drone in a modular payload pod, It also has a Data-Link with which it can share its Data like Video’s and map in real-time with the ground, It can also carry Situational Awareness payload and various more things like Electronic Intelligence (ELINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT), Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and Identification Friend or Foe (IFF).

Crashed Prototype of Rustom-2 (AF-6)

ENDURANCE, RADAR, AND PROTOTYPES – Seven prototypes of Rustom-2 were made out of which one crashed (AF-6). Rustom-2 is reported to have a range of 250Km with service ceiling at 32,000+ Ft with an endurance of 24 hour having a maximum speed of 225 Km/h, it is powered by 2 NPO SATURN 36 MT engines which have 100 horse-power individually because of its two engines Rustom-2 gains a technological advancement because it makes it more agile and manoeuvrable and it have the capability of landing on a single engine if one of the engine’s fails, currently its seventh prototype has to be tested the AF-6A which is said to be more advanced than its other prototypes the AF-6A features new systems which includes a solid state relay-based low weight power distribution unit; an indigenous inertial navigation system (INS) developed by RCI, Hyderabad; Lithium ion batteries and satellite communication (SATCOM) link currently the ADE officials indicated that the requests for proposals (RFP) would shortly be issued to four vendors which are the Tata Power Strategic Engineering Division, Larsen & Toubro Limited, Godrej Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-Bharat Electronics Limited (joint bid) who were chosen out of the 23 firms that responded.

American Predator Drone

ARMAMENT– The drone from its developmental stage was predicted to carry weapons by different sources however later the Director-General of DRDO said that TAPAS is a UAV, not a UCAV but later in 2010 senior DRDO officials gave an indication that this drone is likely to be armed as they described American Predator drone as a template for TAPAS then many experts suggested that it is likely to be armed with India’s own Air to Surface missile or it will lead a fighter aircraft to its target with a Laser designator but currently it is used for reconnaissance and surveillance purpose.

CONCLUSION- Rustom-2 as said will become a predator drone for India however there is no clarity on the fact whether it would rise as a UAV or UCAV but many experts say that Rustom-H will be used for surveillance purpose while the Rustom-2 will be a UCAV as it meets all the ‘standards’ which are required by UCAV. The Rustom-1 Drone was derived from NAL LCRA (Light Canard Research Aircraft) in 1980 during a project led by Professor Rustom Damania. The Rustom drones are purposely built for the replacement of IAI Heron drones.


IAI HAROP-Is an Anti-Radiation drone which is developed by the MBT division of Israel Aerospace Industries and is one of the most advanced “Suicide Drone” in the world it is also known as a loitering munition because of the reason that first it scans a target and identifies it and then this drone itself crash into the Target like a bomb:-


PURPOSE-The IAI HAROP is specially designed to destroy the radar of the enemy and that’s the reason that it has got a stealthy shape, low RCS, Anti-Radar Homing System, and the electronic signature is also tried to be minimized. The HAROP is known as a danger to worlds most advanced missile defense system like Russian made S-300 and S-400 and this was the main purpose HAROP to destroy enemy defense systems and Radar which is because of its Anti-Radiation Homing System but now apart from being used as a UCAV, it can also be used as a UAV as it can track and scan its target by its Night and Day Electro-Optical Infrared system (FLIR) which are used when it has to target an object which is not generating any signals like Enemy Bunkers, Shutdown Radars and Suspected Ballistic Missile sites further it has also got a Camera (CCD) which provides it with a 360 Degree coverage.

SPECIFICATIONS– Apart from being a suicide drone itself it can carry an extra warhead weighing 23 Kg, The HARPY (previous version of HAROP) drone is powered by a UEL AR 731 Wankel Rotary Engine which provides 38 Horse Power, it has got a range of 1000Km and have an endurance of 6 hours, it can work Autonomously and manually which makes it special because if somehow a mission fails it can go back to its launch site without any guidance, The previous records of this drone in real-time warfare has been excellent as once used by Azerbaijan on a truck full of Armenian soldiers.

CONCLUSION– The HAROP drone is a real time tested UAV or UCAV and it has got mixed genes of the function of GHATAK UCAV and Heron UAV, it provides a special superiority to Indian Air Force and that’s why in February 2019 54 more such drones were ordered in IAF’s fleet in its existing 110 HAROP where they were renamed as P-4, other users of HAROP includes Azerbaijan, Germany, Singapore, and Turkey.


Pratisht Chaudhry

Writing articles on Aerospace and Defence from past 4 years,. Articles written in past nominated to Royal Aeronautical and Aerospace Media awards. Currently associated with Asia's largest defence magazine, Youtube channels and Defence XP network Follow Pratisht3 on Twitter for more.

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