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SOURCE: RAJESH AHUJA / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

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India’s premier defense research agency, Defence Research, and Development Organisation (DRDO) has commenced taxi trials of the Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT) that will be a technology demonstrator for the DRDO’s secretive program to create an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) that will be as big as an LCA-Tejas.

SWiFT resembles B-2 stealth bomber in layout as both have a ‘flying wing’ configuration and the same will be adopted for the flying wing configuration UCAV that is to be followed. The flying wing configuration is a widely used design in upcoming UCAVs and Long-range bombers due to its reduced radar cross-section as the design has no definite fuselage and its ability to carry more fuel and weapons.

If a 1 ton SWIFT can be used as a base to develop a 13-14 ton UCAV same can also be used to further scale it to develop a 100-ton manned stealth bomber that can be used to hunt for surface and sub-surface targets both over land and sea. 4x Kaveri non-afterburning turbofan engines generating 46kN of thrust each could be ideal for cruising at Mach 0.95 at sea level and still have a Service ceiling of 50,000 ft.

India doesn’t require very long-range, large, heavy-payload stealth intercontinental strategic bombers like US B-2 stealth bombers but one that still can carry out strikes over 5000-6000km without the need for aerial refueling while carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads should be enough to tackle threats in the region.

SWIFT, Stealth UCAV, and AMCA Program will provide a necessary base to develop most of the complex technologies that are required to master stealth and flying wing configuration that can be adapted for a larger program like a stealth bomber project. India will do require some technical collaborations with International system suppliers to manufacture them in the country but getting both the air force and Navy being onboard such a program and also committing to the procurement of at least 2-3 dozen of them needs to be worked out before such high tech military engineering program can be sanctioned.

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