SOURCE: MANJUNATH REDDDY/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) earlier this year confirmed that a team has already started work on the project to convert the LCA into a drone. HAL is confident that the project can be carried out within a short time frame and Unmanned Tejas will come as a boost in the making of a Stealthy Ghatak unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in future.
While IAF officially has not commented on the development of Unmanned Tejas but increasing procurement cost of manned aircraft and rising need for new aircraft to replace older aircraft do advocates for affordable power projection, which needs a balance between manned aircraft and unmanned aircraft.
The sophistication of long-range Surface to Air missiles In high-end anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environments will mean that first batch of strike aircraft while conducting air superiority missions are most vulnerable to be lost and sustaining combat manned air patrols will be extremely dangerous till most of the Surface to Air missile systems are eliminated.
Unmanned aircraft won’t have to risk precious life’s of Pilots and unmanned Tejas will also be considerably cheaper to produce since it will not require much equipment which is required on manned Tejas. Unmanned aircraft can also work in tandem with manned aircraft and can keep pilots in command over any mission.
While Drone technology is yet to move to fully autonomous technology yet and manned aircraft will remain relevant for decades to come but it is also a fact that to Sustain Air dominance robotics and autonomous systems will play key roles in future battles and Unmanned aircraft with present technology will be a good project to starts with initially.