DRDO successfully test-flies indigenously built high-speed stealth flying-wing UAV

Team India Sentinels Friday 15th of December 2023 01:43 PM

The AFWTD that was test-flown. (Photo: Defence ministry) 

Bangalore/New Delhi: The Defence Research and Development Organization has successfully conducted a test-flight of an indigenously built high-speed and stealth autonomous flying-wing technology demonstrator (AFWTD), on Friday. The unmanned aerial vehicle was flown from the Aeronautical Test Range, in Karnataka’s Chitradurga.

With this India has joined an elite group of countries to have mastered the controls for flying-wing technology in tailless configuration.

In a news release, the defence ministry said: “The successful flying demonstration of this autonomous stealth UAV is a testimony to maturity in the technology readiness in the country.” The high-speed drone is designed and developed by DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment.

This advanced drone was first demonstrated in July 2022. Then it was test-flown for six times in various developmental configurations using two DRDO-built prototypes.

In the release, the defence ministry said after several improvements since its maiden flight, the AFWTD currently has a robust aerodynamic and control system, integrated real-time and hardware-in-loop simulation, and state-of-the-art ground control station. It also said that the team behind the AFWTD project have optimized the drone’s avionic systems, integration, and flight operations towards Friday’s successful flight in final configuration.

The prototype which was test-flown on Friday has a complex arrowhead wing platform. It is made with indigenously developed light-weight carbon prepreg composite material.

The defence ministry said the autonomous landing of this high-speed drone without the need for ground radars, infrastructure, and pilot demonstrated its unique capability of taking off from any runway and landing on any runway with surveyed coordinates. This was enabled by the onboard sensor data fusion with an indigenous satellite-based augmentation system using GPS-Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) receivers to improve the accuracy and integrity of GPS navigation.

This high-speed stealth UAV can be developed as an autonomous platform that may be used for a range of military purposes. It can be used as a surveillance and reconnaissance drone or can be armed with precision-guided missiles.

Being a high-speed drone, the UAV can also assist piloted fighter jets as its wingman in combat roles.

The defence minister, Rajnath Singh, has commended the DRDO, armed forces and the defence industry for Friday’s successful test-flight of the AFWTD. He said the development of such critical technologies indigenously will boost India’s military strength.

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