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Indian Navy is determined to get its third aircraft carrier for which it has decided to lean on carrier-based unmanned aircraft and fighter jet mix composition to form the bulk of the aerial combat capabilities of the next aircraft carrier so that budget requirement for new aircraft carrier remains low but that could still require considerable investment in a deck based fighter jet and Unmanned Aerial vehicles and the challenges that come with such ambitious programs. has been told by people who know about the programs that carrier-based unmanned combat aircraft will be bigger than the Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) due to various technical challenges that need to be developed and mastered before a viable UCAV can emerge.

Navy is already working with DRDO to adapt autonomous unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) that the company is developing for the Indian Air Force (IAF) but it seems that the present design can’t be adapted for the deck-based operations and a new spin-off program will need to be devised to meet requirements that Navy is yet to decide on.

High subsonic speeds, carrier-approved structure, folding wing mechanism with aerial refueling provisions will mean a new design work will need to be sanctioned while the most of technology will come from the UCAV program meant for the IAF . Higher on-station time and ability to carry more fuel and payload will mean carrier-based unmanned aircraft will be much bigger and will be much more complex program than anticipated.

Navy will rely on experience and technologies that are being developed for the TEDBF and IAF’s UCAV Program to develop a deck-based UCAV that it hopes will be ready by 2030. The Navy is yet to decide on its requirements for the UCAV it wants but will be closely monitoring IAF’s UCAV Program for the next few years while it works on the development of a deck-based fighter jet first that it plans to have its first flight by 2026

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