The project would cost Rs. 2650 crores.
By Sreekanth A Nair
After the success of Mars mission Mangalyan and working on the satellite navigation system IRNSS, expected to launch next year, India is all set to make its own stealth combat drones or UCAVs (Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles).
The project named Ghatak is waiting for government nod. The Rs. 2650 crore project is expected to get clearance soon.
The drones will have the ability to take off from its home base, fire missiles and other guided weapons at enemy targets and return to home base.
The Times of India quoted a government source saying, “The project is now being evaluated by an expert committee set up by the finance ministry. Once approved, Project Ghatak will be placed before the cabinet committee on security for the final nod.”
The project comes as a result of successfully completed AURA (autonomous unmanned research aircraft) program, sanctioned in 2009 at a cost of Rs. 12.5 crores to study the feasibility and make a conceptual framework for future Indian UCAV.
The minister of state for defence, Rao Inderjit Singh, told Parliament earlier this month, “The (AURA) project was successfully completed in April 2013 within the time schedule.”
Project Ghatak was initiated by Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in collaboration with Indian Air Force (AIF). It’s expected to take 15 years.
According to the report in The Times of India, a 52-kilonewton dry variant of the indigenously developed Kaveri aerospace engine will be used in the UCAV.
But the Kaveri engine, on which the government has spent more than 2800 crores, has failed to provide adequate power to Tejas light combat aircraft, which compelled India to purchase GE engines from America.
Indian armed forces have already started using Israeli Harop Killer drones and many UAVs have been upgraded with add-ons for enabling them to undertake combat mission.
UCAVs on the other hand, are more advanced than UAVs, which are likely to revolutionize the war front in the near future itself.