Indian Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) successfully completed the first flight of an autonomous flying wing technology demonstrator from Karnataka’s Aeronautical Test Range at Chitradurga. It marks a major milestone for India’s secretive unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) program, under which the stealth wing flying test bed (SWift) is being developed as a technology demonstrator. In India, the program is linked to the development of the fifth-generation stealth fighter, dubbed the advanced medium combat aircraft, or AMCA.
The flight was performed in fully autonomous mode. The aircraft performed flawlessly, including takeoff, waypoint navigation, and a flawless landing. A small turbofan engine powers the aircraft. Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated DRDO. This is an invaluable step toward autonomous aircraft and will pave the way for critical military systems in Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India), he said.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the unmanned aircraft represents a significant milestone in developing key technologies for future unmanned aircraft. These aircraft are a major step toward self-reliance in strategic defence technologies. DRDO’s premier research lab, Aeronautical Development Establishment in Bengaluru, designs and builds Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. It added that the aircraft’s airframe, undercarriage, flight control and avionics systems were developed locally.