Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator

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    Recently ,The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully carried out the maiden test flight of a new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)named  Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator, from the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga, Karnataka.

    Image Courtesy:PIB

    AboutAutonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator

    • It  is powered by a small turbofan engine.
    • The airframe, undercarriage and entire flight control and avionics systems used for the aircraft were developed indigenously
    • Operating in a fully autonomous mode, the aircraft exhibited a perfect flight, including take-off, way point navigation and a smooth touchdown.
    • Specifications 
    • The flying wing type of aircraft has a key operational advantage because it has low reflective cross sections resulting in low radar signature, making it a stealth machine. 
      • Because of the shape, the aircraft also has very low drag or air resistance.
        • However, this unique design also comes with its issues related to stability and thus requires additional systems.
    • The design has the potential to deliver high fuel efficiency and stealth, if executed with precision, as demonstrated by some of advanced bombers in the USA’s arsenal like B-2 bomber.

    Significance

    • It marks a major milestone in terms of proving critical technologies towards the development of future unmanned aircraft and is a significant step towards self-reliance in such strategic defence technologies.
    • It is a reduced sized autonomous aircraft and is proving various technologies for autonomous aircraft to be built in future.

    Other related Developments

    • DRDO is in the process of developing UAVs of different classes to meet the requirements of the armed forces
      • Rustom-2, the indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV under development, has crossed a milestone by reaching an altitude of 25,000 feet and an endurance of 10 hours in December 2021 and is being designed to reach an altitude of 30,000 feet and 18 hours endurance.
    • The DRDO has in the past developed various drones, like Nishant, Rustom, Tapas and Lakshya among others, which have different capabilities and operational roles. 
    • The Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator is precursor to an autonomous stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) being developed by the DRDO, primarily for the Indian Air Force. 
      • A deck launched version for the Indian Navy is also said to be in the pipeline. The UCAV will be capable of launching missiles and precision-guided munitions.

    Source:IE