India will have a new breed of combat drones or UCAVs, which will be 'Made-in-India', that will boost the country's capability to launch air assaults beyond its borders that will have the ability to fire precision-guided munitions and head back base.
The Indian government is embarking on a new Project Ghatak, which will see ADA-DRDO combine developing "Indian Unmanned Strike Air Vehicle" in India, according to a report in The Times of India.
The project is currently awaiting the expert analysis from a finance ministry committee, and the government is close to approving this futuristic Rs. 2,650 crore project.
The report said that this project will follow the successful completion of the AURA (autonomous unmanned research aircraft) programme. The programme was tasked to carry out research into the future Indian UCAV.
Further details reveal that this new combat drone will be powered by the indigenous Kaveri derivative engine (dry variant) without the after burner and will feature 'flying-wing' design similar to the US' B-2 Spirit, a stealth bomber.
The Kaveri engine development has been an ill-fated story in Indian defence development as the engine that was developed to power LCA Tejas aircrafts failed to provide the required thrust. India had to go for GE engines to power its LCA Tejas.
The only UCAVs currently in India's inventory are the Harop UCAVs purchased from Israel. Harop UCAV is different from UCAV that is in consideration with the Indian government since this is a Kamikaze type of aircraft, where the drone itself is the main munition and is designed to self-destuct as it attacks its target.
IBTimes India had reported previously that India was looking to counter Pakistan's success with Burraq UAVs with Heron TPs from Israel.
Even as the government looks to augment the strength of combat drones, it looks like it will eventually have different aircrafts in its inventory, even as DRDO is working on Rustom-2, an indigenous armed drone.
India also uses the Israeli Heron and Searcher-II UAVs for surveillance and reconnaissance for the Indian Army and Indian Air Force in forward areas.
It could take nearly a decade before these futuristic Indian UCAVs take to the skies and be its guarding soldiers.