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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is making significant progress on its unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) program, codenamed CATS Warrior. This project initially focused on the CATS Warrior, a smaller (under 1-ton) UCAV designed to operate as a “loyal wingman” for manned fighter jets and conduct deep penetration strikes.

However, new information by suggests HAL is also developing a larger variant: the CATS Warrior II. This heavier UCAV will be a game-changer, boasting a near 5-ton All-Up Weight (AUW). Powered by a domestically produced Hindustan Turbo Fan Engine (HTFE-25), the CATS Warrior II is expected to carry a substantial weapons payload of 400-500 kg. Additionally, its impressive endurance of over 10 hours and service cruise altitude near 35,000 ft will provide significant operational flexibility.

Currently, the CATS Warrior II is in the design phase. Its development hinges on the completion of the HTFE-25 engine certification, expected by 2027. To potentially bridge the gap, HAL is also considering using the Russian AL-55I engine, which generates 17kN of thrust, as an interim solution as informed to

This development signifies a major leap forward in India’s UCAV technology. The CATS Warrior II will sit below the Ghatak UCAV Program which will have a 13-ton All-Up Weight (AUW) similar to the LCA-Tejas Mk1A.CATS Warrior II will have the ability to carry a significant payload, operate at high altitudes for extended durations, and potentially integrate with domestically produced engines like the HTFE-25 strengthening India’s self-reliance in the defence sector.

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