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March 21, 2017

Project to develop unmanned variant of Tejas planes in works


In what would break new ground, India has started work on developing an unmanned combat version of the home-grown light combat aircraft (LCA), with a task group being constituted to study how to convert the fighter for a futuristic role.

A team has already started work on the project to convert the LCA into a drone and India's premier aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is confident that the project can be carried out within a short time frame.


"We have started an internal study on making a unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) on the Tejas platform. Besides, we are confident on coming up with an unmanned version of Chetak helicopter as well," HAL Chief T Suvarna Raju told ET.

The Air Force has already placed orders for 123 LCA fighters and HAL is targeting a gap of 200 fighters that the Air Force will face in coming years. place a high risk on pilots in case of a ditching in enemy territory. India is also working on a project named AURA to make a futuristic combat drone that would be powered by a modified version of the Kaveri engine.

The drone, however, is several years away as the project is still at the design stage. While unmanned LCA would be no match for a futuristic stealth drone, officials pointed that out converting a flying platform into an autonomous unit could be faster and cheaper short term option.

The US, for example, uses unmanned F-16 fighters for aerial target practice.

TOI

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