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SOURCE: VISHAL KARPE / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

According to Intelligence reports, Pakistan Air Force which was caught unaware of 12 IAF Mirage-2000 breaching its airspace and launching 5 long range Precision guided Bombs at Terror infrastructure in Balakot a town in Mansehra District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, has been inducting and installing long-range surveillance radars near border with India and also has installed air defence system and Aerostat Radar System at Airbases to further strengthening its defense’s against possible second wave of Air Strikes from Indian Air force.

Zero infiltration at the line of control and no terror major terror attacks in the valley against security forces only confirms that Pakistan is focusing on closing its shortfall in its air defense system before it is ready to push more terrorists in the valley and normalize its terror activity in the region.

While IAF is also focusing on the induction of long-range strike missile like BrahMos-A, Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) and SPICE-2000 bombs which will not require the crossing of the international border for the second wave of airstrikes if need be arise.

But the long-range missile system is expensive and can miss their targets and since Pakistan now has taken his camps further away from the border it will be very difficult to rely on such missile system which can push full-fledged war due to which role of armed drones for risky cross border raids has been pushed as a non-risky alternative but India not will require better drones for effective strikes but needs to invest in its own local systems as alternative and HAL’s Wing man concept which was first showcased at the Aero India 2019 air Show emerges as low-cost alternative to expensive armed drones imported from abroad which IAF needs to brainstorm to make it an effective aerial platform.

HAL’s wing man concept is very similar to the Unmanned Wing man concept of the United States air force but is a low-cost option which can be developed using already existing technology. Wingman concept will be powered by a PTAE-7E Small Gas Turbine engine developed by HAL. PTAE-7E just weights 75-kg and can generate only 3.73kn of thrust levels which are of same levels as seen in subsonic cruise missile but it will only be capable of carrying 250 kg payload which will mean at best two DRDO developed SAAW which weights 120kgs each, while HAL is open to ideas of using two PTAE-7E engines which will greatly improve its payload performance in general.

Using Stealth air frame and internal weapons bay, HAL’s wing man concept will be of low Radar cross section due to its small size and due to its stealth design. HAL says that wing man concept is specially designed to operate at contested airspace with a manned aircraft and also operate as fully autonomous aircraft which can be used for effective jamming and electronic intelligence missions or be used as a strike aircraft along with manned aircraft for effective mission.

While DRDO is developing GHATAK UCAV project which will see the use of stealth design for the development of unmanned strike aircraft for similar roles. HAL’s wingman concept will be more like a swarm Unmanned Wing man to the lead manned aircraft which will not only act as a distraction to the enemy air defense systems but also overwhelm enemy air defense system.

IAF is still mum on the proposed HAL’s wing-man concept but since GHATAK UCAV project is still a few years away from becoming reality and use of swarm drones and unmanned aircrafts gaining traction among many advance air force’s around the world, IAF needs to fire up its imagination and support or further recommend improvement to it so a low-cost swarm unnamed wing man aircraft is available

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