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The Indian Navy’s forthcoming Naval Innovation and Indigenization Organization Seminar, Swavlamban, scheduled for October 4-5, 2023, is generating considerable buzz and excitement within defence and aerospace circles. The seminar promises to unveil cutting-edge indigenous naval air assets that are currently in development, sparking intrigue and anticipation among defence enthusiasts and industry experts.

One notable figure contributing to the excitement is Harsh Vardhan Thakur, a former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot and a distinguished test pilot with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Thakur, in response to the anticipation surrounding Swavlamban, extended an invitation to attendees, hinting that the event would showcase the future of Indian-origin naval air assets.

Intriguingly, Thakur unveiled a poster that has heightened curiosity and speculation in the defence community. The poster features two enigmatic naval aircraft, offering tantalizing hints about what Swavlamban might unveil.

The first aircraft pair depicted in the poster appears to be unmanned, deck-based fighter jets. These aircraft exhibit prominent canards, suggesting advanced aerodynamics. The airframe, while non-stealthy in appearance, is equipped with two air-to-air missile hardpoints, highlighting their combat capability.

The second aircraft depicted in the image is likely a manned platform, potentially representing India’s ambitious 6th-generation fighter jet program. The design hints at a futuristic, stealthy airframe with a tailless, diamond-shaped wing featuring straight leading and trailing edges. The wing seamlessly integrates with the extended fuselage, characterized by a single, conspicuous chine line that tapers abruptly toward the nose.

India’s 6th generation fighter jet program officially is a non-starter and India has no program of its own like many other countries and will lag behind other global programs even when it initiates one since India has decided to pursue the 5th generation fighter program that will incorporate advanced technologies and design elements, enhancing its survivability, stealth, and combat capabilities first rather then skipping 5th gen like seen in some of the European programs. However, the 5th gen program is projected to see substantial development and maturity of prototypes closer to the 2030s, with a potential timeline for operational deployment around 2035, with likely initiation of the 6th gen program around the same time.

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