The Indian Navy will be pursuing the development of a lethal carrier-based unmanned combat aircraft to be operated from India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and what will follow next as the Navy has started the discussion with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for the development of an autonomous stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that can operate from an aircraft carrier.

A carrier-based low observable Unmanned Combat Air System for surveillance, strike, and possibly for other missions has been identified. Special studies and funds could be required to prove that the unmanned aircraft could safely launch and be recovered from an aircraft carrier for which a new program could be initiated that will be independent of the air force unmanned combat air vehicle program that is currently under development. has been told that a sizable investment in this carrier-based unmanned aircraft program will be required as the Navy is keen to build this on the technology that will be developed. The Navy is also looking into operating unmanned combat air vehicles that can carry out combat aerial patrol (CAP) at the outer parameter of a carrier strike group (CSG) with onboard air to air missiles that can take down hostile manned and unmanned targets at stand off range if try to breach the outer parameter, while the inner parameter will be guarded by a manned jets that will operate as command post to this unmanned aircraft and also that can intervene if required.

Integrating an unmanned aircraft into the carrier airwing will be a significant step forward for the Navy said an official who is aware of the discussion that has taken place and will come as a bigger technology challenge to the ADA and DRDO since the technology of operating an unmanned aircraft from an aircraft carrier is still evolving and still at a stage where many countries who are developing them are yet to make them operational.

After the LCA-Navy Mk1 and Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) program, the development of a carrier-based unmanned aircraft will be the next big task for which the Navy and ADA are keen to have a close collaboration that will commence flight trial after 2030.

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