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The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL) recently released a video showcasing the high-altitude pseudo-satellite testing conducted at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga, India. While the video’s main focus was the high-altitude testing, eagle-eyed viewers spotted what appeared to be three DRDO Stealth SWiFT UCAV prototypes shrouded under a tarpaulin.

The SWiFT (Standing Wave Integrated Fused Thruster) is a crucial prototype, acting as a scaled-down version of the forthcoming Ghatak unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). This program signifies a significant stride in India’s development of indigenous combat drones. The SWiFT boasts a weight of just one tonne, while the operational Ghatak UCAV is expected to be a much larger aircraft, weighing in at around 13 tonnes.

The Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a DRDO laboratory responsible for the SWiFT’s development, confirmed a successful flight test using a tailless configuration at the Chitradurga test range. A defense scientist revealed that the project’s primary objective, sanctioned in 2016 with a budget of approximately Rs 70 crore, was to validate stealth technology and high-speed autonomous landing capabilities.

Another scientist explained the unconventional design of the SWiFT. Unlike traditional aircraft that utilize separate wings, horizontal and vertical tails, and a fuselage, the SWiFT takes a more radical approach. This prototype is a single-lift surface design, eliminating the need for these traditional components.

The CSIR-NAL video, along with the glimpse of the shrouded SWiFT prototypes, offers a fascinating look into India’s progress in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. The SWiFT’s successful test paves the way for the development of the Ghatak UCAV, a testament to India’s commitment to fostering a robust indigenous defense program.