According to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Annual report for 2020-21, Design and development of Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) of HAL has started work on TEJAS–MAX (Mothership) cockpit that will act as the mother-ship platform with the embedded air teaming intelligence concepts to demonstrate the fully integrated as well as autonomous wingman platforms and swarming of drones to engage in the mission.

TEJAS–MAX concept showcased earlier this year at Aero India 2021, will be based on Tejas twin-seater aircraft that will have a highly modified second cockpit to act as command and control post for the CATS warrior, a low-observable unmanned wingman, CATS Hunter Air launched cruise missile and CATS Air-Launched Flexible Assets (ALFA), a loitering munition.

TEJAS–MAX will use its second cockpit to be operated by a drone pilot or a weapon station office (WSO) that be guide and send missions orders to the CATS air-teaming system (warrior, Hunter, and ALFA). WSO also will have the ability to take manual take over of the CATS warrior, depending on the mission criteria.

HAL along with Bengaluru-based startup Newspace Research & Technologies plans to demonstrate ambitious CATS (Combat Air Teaming System) on Tejas–MAX in the next 4 years. TEJAS–MAX will be the third variant of the Tejas Twin seater aircraft after Tejas Lead-in Fighter Trainer (LIFT) program.

IAF has placed orders for 18 Tejas Twin seater aircraft and has committed to procure 20-30 Tejas-LIFT to act as a bridge between AJT and conversion training program for new pilots. TEJAS–MAX program will see separate orders once it is ready for developmental trials with the CATS family.

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