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India developing unmanned combat air vehicles


India is developing an autonomous, jet-powered stealth unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that could be ready to field by 2025.

Researchers at India’s Aeronautical Development Establishment, part of the defense ministry’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), demonstrated a scaled-down prototype, pictured, in July 2022 for the Indian Air Force at a test range in southern India, according to Aviation Week magazine.

Called the Ghatak, the craft is powered by a turbofan engine and eventually will be capable of carrying missiles, bombs and precision-guided munitions, according to news reports. 

Numerous Indo-Pacific militaries are developing drones and other unmanned craft to complement multidomain operations and evolving security strategies across air, land, sea and space.

India has demonstrated such drone technology, including a drone swarm in which 75 UCAVs identified and destroyed targets, The EurAsian Times news site reported. 

“India has unrestricted access to engines supplied by foreign partners and can choose locally made heavy or multifuel engines too. There’s certainly no dearth of engineers and funding to accelerate unmanned aircraft development in India,” Philippines-based defense analyst Miguel Miranda told The EurAsian Times in 2021 after details of the Ghatak’s progress were revealed.

“It’s refreshing to see renewed progress in unmanned aircraft with no less than the DRDO leading the way.”

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