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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India’s state-owned aerospace giant, is poised to embark on the development of CATS-MAX, a revolutionary program that will transform the LCA-Tejas Trainer aircraft into the brain and brawn of a coordinated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm.

CATS-MAX, derived from “Combat Aerial Teaming System – MAX,” will leverage the existing LCA-Tejas Trainer prototype as a platform for integrating vital data-linking and mission control systems. Industry sources familiar with the program, reported by, suggest development could begin in mid-2025 with the first flight targeted for late 2025 or early 2026.

This ambitious project envisions CATS-MAX acting as a mothership and data centre, orchestrating a symphony of specialized UAVs:

  • CATS OMCA: This Decoy UAV will be the master of misdirection, designed to confuse and overwhelm enemy air defences.
  • CATS-HALE: This High-Altitude, Long-Endurance UAV will serve a dual role, providing persistent surveillance while also packing an offensive punch.
  • CATS Warrior: Functioning as a lethal “loyal wingman,” this Strike UCAV will enhance firepower and decision-making capabilities.
  • CATS Infinity: Taking airspace dominance to new heights, this High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) UAV will offer extended surveillance and communication.
  • CATS Hunter: Stealth will be the name of the game for this Low Observable Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM).
  • CATS ALFA: Rounding out the team, this Air-launched SWARM Loitering Munition system will unleash coordinated attacks on enemy positions.

By employing CATS-MAX as the central command hub, these UAVs – each with its unique strengths – will be able to execute complex missions while maintaining a safe stand-off distance from threats. This not only protects pilots but also broadens strategic options for the Indian Air Force.

The development of CATS-MAX signifies a significant leap forward in India’s unmanned aerial combat capabilities. This program holds the potential to revolutionize modern warfare by enabling coordinated, long-range attacks with minimal risk to human pilots.

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