SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
DRDO has started work on the development of Futuristic Unmanned Fighter Aircraft (FUFA) that it hopes to make into a reality in a decade or so but DRDO officially till now has not commented on the project nor acknowledged its existence. What we can understand from tender documents is that it will be high subsonic stealth unmanned aircraft that can comply with 5th generation platforms in autonomous mode.
Since FUFA is a separate program from the Indian Unmanned Strike Air Vehicle (IUSAV) its role will be to accompany 5th generation platforms like AMCA in Air superiority operations in the first wave to make it safer for manned fighter jets to follow in the second wave of attack.
While IUSAV will have a tole to carry out SEAD or Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses and DEAD Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses operations, FUFA along with AMCA will provide Air Escort to these platforms so that Air superiority is established in the scene of action at an early stage in event of war.
FUFA will be different from the HAL’s CATS Warrior due to additional weapons, avionics, and sensor carrying capabilities that it can stay with manned fighter jets at the scene of action much longer and won’t be required to be guided by a mother ship in the vicinity and can be controlled from satellite, AWACS, fighter jets, ground units, ships, submarines from a distance.
Loyal wingmen platforms are often low-cost aerial vehicles with limited capabilities where the main objective of the platform is to play as a decoy to draw out the enemy air defense systems and to also ensure that the manned aircraft in the formation can be guarded against hostile platforms even if it needs to sacrifice itself. FUFA is a much more advanced and autonomous Loyal wingmen platform that can fly with or without manned platforms in the formation and can engage in an air to air combat if required without any intervention of the manned aircraft and also carry sufficient weapons which usually is a compromise in the smaller platforms like CATS Warrior.
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