According to a report prepared by Shiv Aroor, India’s Public sector Aerospace Design Major Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IITK) who are jointly working on development of India’s first Stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) are planning to carry out first flight trials of a scaled model of Ghatak UCAV Codenamed SWiFT (Short for stealth wing flying testbed) by end of this year .

ADA and IITK researchers are using a scaled down model powered by a Russian Supplied NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine to test their design. The remotely piloted scaled model will act as subscale technology demonstrator to record airflow and stealth characters of the design for its entire flight regime.

Once the flight-test program is completed, Recorded data will help researchers to further fine-tune the design characters of the aircraft and also modify or bring changes to the surface dimensions of the aircraft.

If all goes well then ADA and IITK will develop a full-scale Wing tunnel model of Ghatak UCAV to carry out further research in radar measuring facility to improve its Stealth characters and to reduce its RCS hot spots.

Ghatak UCAV uses a serpentine intake to reduce engine heat signature for which GTRE has been roped in to develop a Dry Kaveri engine variant generating 50kN Class of Thrust to power it from Prototype stage. While ADA and GTRE are confident that
Dry Kaveri engine variant will be good enough to power Ghatak UCAV and also allow it to perform effectively at all strike missions but there is concern that Navy might demand more powerful engines due to which developmental work is yet to begin.

Indian Navy is interested and is exploring ways to get inside Ghatak UCAV program to develop a carrier-borne unmanned combat aerial vehicle which can be adopted to be operated from the Indian Aircraft carrier for strike missions. But developing a carrier-borne unmanned combat aerial vehicle will not only require next level of maturity of the flight control system software it will also require developing a deck handling for launch and recovery mechanisms for the UCAV to operate from aircraft carrier, which will not be easy task and it is likely Airforce version will be cleared first for development.

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