Ghatak UCAV project
The Ghatak UCAV project is currently awaiting clearance of the PMO. In Picture: An Israeli-made Heron unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) flies over Porbandar, during its commissioning into the Indian Navy, Jan. 17, 2011.Reuters

India's ambitious plan of having a new breed of indigenous combat drones or unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which has been named Ghatak, is currently awaiting approval from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), OneIndia reported. It cited Dr S Christopher, director general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), as confirming that a report on the Ghatak project is with the PMO for further consideration.

The report was submitted by a high-powered committee that included as its members nuclear physicist R Chidambaram and Dr V K Saraswat, the former chief of DRDO and Chief Scientific Advisor to the Indian Minister of Defence. Christopher has confirmed to the news website that the committee's report had "recommended" the Ghatak project. However, the file is taking up time in the PMO owing to the project's "financial implications."

The project cost is estimated to be Rs 2,650 crore. Ghatak will be powered by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE)'s indigenous Kaveri derivative engine (dry variant) without the after burner, and it will feature the 'flying-wing' design that is similar to the famous B-2 Spirit, a stealth bomber of the U.S. Air Force.

The project is undertaken jointly by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) and DRDO. The Ghatak project follows the completion of autonomous unmanned research aircraft (AURA) programme, which was tasked to carry out research into the future Indian UCAVs.

Even as DRDO awaits clearance from the PMO, Pakistan has successfully conducted live military operation using its Burraq UCAVs, which took down "high profile targets."

Meanwhile, Christopher also confirmed that DRDO is looking for a May-June window for the next test of the subsonic cruise missile, Nirbhay. He further added that DRDO is looking for new test of the Nirbhay missile with BrahMos seeker December 2016.

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