Maiden flight of the Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator was carried out successfully by Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga, Karnataka on July 01, 2022. Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh has congratulated DRDO and said it is a major achievement towards autonomous aircraft and will pave the way for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in terms of critical military systems. Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman DRDO Dr G Satheesh Reddy appreciated the efforts of the teams associated in the design, development and testing of the system.
The unmanned aerial vehicle is designed & developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru, a premier research laboratory of DRDO. Operating in a fully autonomous mode, the aircraft exhibited a perfect flight, including take-off, way point navigation and a smooth touchdown. This flight marks a major milestone in terms of proving critical technologies towards the development of future unmanned aircraft and is significant step towards self-reliance in such strategic defence technologies. 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.
The Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator, designed and developed by the DRDO’s Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), is also known as the Stealth Wing Flying Testbed (SWiFT). The first prototype appears to be a flying-wing design. The second prototype is equipped with a tailfin.The video of the flight test provided by the DRDO shows the second prototype was flown on 1 July. This is likely because of continuing challenges faced by the DRDO in achieving flight stability of the aircraft. Design images in 2018 showed that the aircraft was powered by a domestically developed Kaveri turbofan engine.
The aircraft has very low drag or air resistance because of the shape. The demonstrator is also equipped with low reflective cross-sections which results in low radar signature, that means it cannot be detected easily. This feature of the vehicle makes it a stealth machine. The airframe, the basic mechanical structure of the aircraft and the undercarriage, the landing gear used for take-off and landing and the entire flight control along with avionics systems used for the demonstrator have been developed indigenously. The Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator will be capable of launching missiles and precision-guided munitions.