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Last year, revealed Computer-generated imagery (CGI) of two distant autonomous unmanned aircraft side by side, which showcased the development of different families of unmanned aircraft in India with varying capabilities and degrees of autonomy.

While the State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has not disclosed information about the second autonomous unmanned aircraft in the CGI, it did announce that the CATS Warrior, an autonomous wingman drone with an All-up weight of 1600kg, capable of auto take-off and landing, will undertake its first flight by the end of 2024 or early 2025.

The program is still in the initial stages of design, and the current design is from the concept stages. More changes are likely to be incorporated in future refinements. The program will derive technologies that are being developed for the CATS Warrior, including its advanced weapons, sensors, networking and battle management capabilities, concealed antennae and composite structures. has been informed that the bigger autonomous unmanned aircraft seen in the CGI will be developed as an Unmanned Fighter Bomber Aircraft, featuring a bigger Internal Weapons Bay (IWB) powered by a higher-powered 25kN turbofan engine, with a maximum launch weight of 2.5 to 3 tons.

The CATS Warrior, on the other hand, will be powered by a PTAE-W turbojet engine with a thrust of 3.73kN in a twin-engine configuration, which will enable it to carry a payload of 500-600kg, with a service ceiling of 30,000ft. The Bigger Warrior, equipped with a detuned 25kN turbofan engine, will have a payload carrying capacity of 1-1.2 tons, with a service ceiling of over 40,000ft, optimized for strike missions over enemy airspace.

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