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SOURCE: IDRW NEWS NETWORK

After leasing two predator drones from the US, the Indian Navy is now going to urgently acquire 10 Naval Shipborne Unmanned Aerial Systems. While the Indian Air Force is also increasing its reliance on remotely piloted and possibly autonomous aircraft, there will be no replacement for a fighter pilot in the cockpit any time soon, but the Navy is increasing its development of unmanned and manned systems by creating a new line of aerial systems that are independent of the ideas what Airforce has stored for its future fleets.

Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) is the first instance that the Navy has desired to break cover from the shadows of the airforce and develop a jet that is optimal for its operations. The difference of opinion on the future of unmanned aircraft is also emerging between IAF and IN that will create a different roadmap on how to achieve those technologies.

TEDBF program is the first instance where the Navy has decided to go solo without the backing of the airforce and to make it a grand success, it has drawn up big minds from its Naval Aviation to work together with designers and engineers of the ADA and DRDO that might see very interesting fighter jet in the making.

idrw.org has been told that near-final but still concept designs of the TEDBF will be showcased for the first time at the upcoming Aero India 2021, but the dedicated design team assigned for the development of 24 ton carrier-based twin-engined fighter jet has no time for breather has it works closely with Naval Top guns to freeze the design of the new jet by end of next year. TEDBF program will see a very short development circle, it needs final detail design should be ready for the program to be sanctioned so that prototype is ready in 2025 and that will be ready for its first flight in 2026.

The Navy has committed to procure 100 TEDBF jets when it is ready to enter production in 2031 so that the Navy gets 40+ jets in the first batch to replace the accident-prone Mig-29K fleet completely by 2034-35. Navy is in the process of cutting down the number of fighters from 57 to around 36 from its Multirole carrier-based fighters (MCRBF) tender issued to International vendors like Boeing for its F-18E/F and Dassault for its Rafale M but that to might be scrapped at a later stage due to budgetary concerns.

The Navy is already engaging with the team that is in charge of developing autonomous stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) for the air force and is conducting studies to explore options for the development of carrier-based autonomous stealthy UCAV for its requirements. Integrating an unmanned aircraft into the carrier airwing will be a significant step forward for the Navy but that also comes with its own set of challenges about funding and developing a platform that can also perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) tasks, which will require a stepping-stone to next level of capabilities said informed sources close to idrw.org.

India’s top experimental test pilot Group Captain (Retd) Harsh Vardhan Thakur who now works for HAL has confirmed the development of an Optionally Manned fighter jet on baseline LCA Navy Mk1 to be used to control Unmanned strike and wingman system that could as a mothership for the autonomous systems. The Navy is also keen to have a carrier-based Turbo fan-powered high altitude, long-endurance (HALE), unmanned aerial system (UAS) that is reportedly in the works.

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