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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India’s state-owned aerospace giant, has unveiled new details about its next-generation weapon system, the CATS Hunter Air-Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). This sub-sonic, 700kg behemoth promises to significantly enhance India’s air attack capabilities with its lethal combination of stealth, range, and precision.

The CATS Hunter is designed to be the silent predator of the skies. Launched from a fighter aircraft (“Mothership”), it flies close to the ground or sea, mimicking terrain features to remain invisible to enemy radar. This low-altitude flight, coupled with its stealthy design, makes it a formidable foe for even the most advanced air defense systems.

Once unleashed, the CATS Hunter homes in on high-value ground targets with devastating accuracy. Its internal guidance system and remote command functionality allow for precise targeting and course correction, ensuring maximum impact.

The CATS Hunter boasts of several technological advancements that contribute to its lethality and survivability. These include:

  • Folded wings: The ability to fold its wings allows for efficient storage and integration onto the Mothership.
  • Upgraded PTAE-7 engine: This indigenous turbojet engine provides the necessary thrust for the missile’s long-range flight.
  • Stealth design: The CATS Hunter’s shape and materials minimize its radar signature, making it a ghost in the skies.

While development of the CATS Hunter is still ongoing, with trial flights expected to begin in 2025, its projected range of 250-350 kilometers promises to significantly extend the reach of India’s fighter jets. This extended range will allow for deeper strikes into enemy territory, while keeping Indian aircraft safely beyond the reach of counterattacks.

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