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SOURCE:  SHIVA MUDGIL / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

The New Year 2020 kicks off and a new decade is upon us, there are some of the top ten aeronautical programs which will define India’s aerial firepower and give an edge and boost to its indigenous capabilities. Based on the projects taken up by India to augment its air power, this aeronautical projects will define Indian Air Force’s in the next decade and also will make it independent from the imports.

Top 10 Aeronautical Military projects of India

10 ) ALFA-S swarming drones: – ALFA-S or Air-Launched Flexible Asset (Swarm) is the future of aerial warfare that will be able to at least partially replace pilots in some of the most dangerous missions. A team of engineers and software experts at state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and NewSpace Research and Technologies, a Bengaluru based start-up looking at next-generation aviation technologies, is working furiously to fly the first Indian swarm drone prototypes in two years.

9) HAL Unmanned Wingman concept: India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) unveiled its Unmanned Wingman concept at the Aero India 2019 exhibition. Powered by an indigenously developed HAL PTAE 7 turbojet engine – which is also powering the Lakshya target UAV – rated 4.22 kN thrust class engine, Unmanned Wingman concept is being developed along with local start-up called NewSpace Research and Technologies (NRT).

The proposed UCAV design depicts an aerodynamic almond-shaped nose, mid-wing monoplane with slender fuselage and V-tail. According to HAL specifications, the air vehicle will have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 1,300 kg and will be 6.4 m long and 4.4 m wide. The UCAV will feature a modular ventral payload bay that can accommodate up to 250 kg of stores, including air-to-surface weapons, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and electronic warfare (EW) payloads and will have a range of 400km.

8) Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH): IMRH is a new rotary-wing initiative by HAL of India to fill an Indian military medium-lift transport requirement and replace aging Mi-8 Helicopters of Russian origins in the Indian Air Force. IMRH is the same as Mi-17 Class of Helicopters which is waiting for cabinet approvals for funds. HAL has estimated that in the next two decades Indian armed forces will require nearly 550+ Medium Class Helicopters to replace aging ones and IMRH variants for the Indian Army, Indian Air force and Indian Navy are in planned for development.

7) Saras Mk2: National Aerospace Laboratories is working on the development of Saras Mk2, a 19 seater version of the airliners and for the Indian Air Force which will eventually start replacing Dornier Do 228 highly versatile multi-purpose light transport aircraft.

6) HAL’s SPORT LIFT: HAL’s Supersonic Omni Role Trainer Aircraft (SPORT) a lead-in-fighter trainer (LIFT) built on the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas Trainer platform will start taking shape from 2023 onwards. SPORT LIFT program has been backed by IAF and already a simulator was showcased at the Aero India 2019 exhibition. SPORT LIFT will be used to train pilots before they enter their squadron and aircraft can be programmed to train pilots on new types as well.

5) Tejas Mk1A: IAF is set to place orders for 83 Updated Tejas Mk1A designed by HAL in 2020, which will come with a host of improvements and upgrades over current platforms. Mk1A will be future-ready and will come with new Mission Computer designated for the MWF-Tejas Mk2 program so that it will be able to adopt new technologies and newer avionics to remain technologically relevant for next two decades to come.

4) Ghatak UCAV: Ghatak is an autonomous stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), being developed by the DRDO for the IAF. Ghatak UCAV will have an MTOW of 15 tonnes which can be also used for high-speed reconnaissance. Powered by an 50kN Dry variant of Kaveri engine , Ghatak UCAV will be able to work in tandem with AMCA and as well as Unmanned Wing man and Air-Launched Flexible Asset (Swarm) to over power enemy air defence systems in the first wave of strikes .

3) MWF-Tejas Mk2: Medium Weight Fighter aka Tejas Mk2 is a 17.5-tonne fighter jet program that will replace Mirage-2000 fleet from Indian Air Force from 2030 onwards. MWF-Tejas Mk2 initially will be used to replace the Jaguar Strike fleet but the total requirement is over 200 fighter jets so it is likely that some of the requirements will be met from other fighter jet programs.

2) TEDBF: Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) program for the Indian Navy will also have spin off for the Air force variant. 25-tonne TEDBF will not only replace the Mig-29K fleet of the Indian Navy but also will replace the 80 Mig-29 fleet of IAF when it is ready from 2029-30 onwards.

1) AMCA: India’s first and only 5th Generation fighter program is set to take its first flight by 2025 and enter in production by 2030 in limited scale production for the Mk1 Batches with older F-414 engines. Mk2 production will only start in 2035 and will come with New High thrust engines.

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