Falling fighter squadron strength and lack of procurement of next-generation fighter jet has not deterred Indian Air-force’s long term force projection plans to acquire at least 100 unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) by 2030 informed industrial sources close to

Indian Airforce in past has shown key interest in the procurement of over 100 Avenger UAVs from the US-based General Atomics. Avenger UAV basically is armed drone powered by a jet engine with a basic level of stealth but sources confirm to that UCAVs which are much more advanced then Armed UAVs like Avenger are to be procured as a separate addition to the unnamed platforms which IAF is keen to operate in next decade.

Previous Obama and present Trump administration are yet to clear the deal for procurement of Avenger UAVs for IAF but India last year concluded a deal with Israel for procurement of 10 Heron TP-XP which can be armed with bombs and missile but will have limited payload capacity from more than 1t to 450kg.

India’s plans to develop its own Ghatak unmanned combat aerial vehicle program got major backing when developmental agencies received initial funding for the program but it is still in pretty advanced stage of development and still going through wind tunnel and scale model development that it is assumed by IAF’s Top brass that it won’t be ready for production for another decade or more and if there is considerable slowdown in progress of the program then IAF is open to acquiring UCAVs from foreign vendors.

Britain and France have initiated a joint unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) and Russia too recently showcased its Okhotnik, or Hunter, unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrators in leaked images and USA is already working on Northrop Grumman’s X-47B and Boeing’s X-45C Phantom Ray program and China is already developing Jian (Dark Sword) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) and many spin-off programs which will enable them to field this UCAVs in active service by 2025.

Stealth Unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) are seen as highly effective deep-strike platform which comes in handy when used in highly contested airspace in the first wave of attacks reducing considerable risk to the manned platforms. UCAVs are also seen as much more cost-effective are can be one-third of the cost of a manned aircraft.

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