Within a decade from now, Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters positioned deep inside Pakistani or Chineses air space could be accompanied by three or more “unmanned wingmen”, armed stealth drones which will flight alongside IAF fighters to defend the enemies.
One of the main designers who is involved in the project and being led by the Hindustan Aeronautics said, ”These platforms will be the first line of offense in operations against heavily defended, integrated air defense networks”.The mission also aims to start an Indian defense.
A single precision-guided weapon will be there with each drone, just like an air-to-surface missile or a laser-guided bomb. In the future to target enemy fighters, the project will be providing an updated version which will be able to fire air-to-air.
A heavily-upgraded IAF Jaguar fighter bomber or the Jaguar Max will be connected with the unmanned wingman. The onboard pilots will be assigned with specific tasks to each of the unmanned drones which fly alongside the fighter.
The key designer of the design team said, “Unmanned wingman platforms can target enemy airfields, army installations, radar sites, and enemy surface-to-air missile launchers.”
”Not only do they increase the spread of offensive firepower in each and every mission, but they also reduce potential casualties because they are unmanned aircraft,” the design team member added.
”Each drone is also equipped with its own radar and sensors, data from which is transmitted back to the Jaguar fighter through the data-link so that the pilots get a comprehensive situational picture of all the targets and threats in the area.”
Indian Air Force is facing issues with an acute shortfall in its fighter squadrons and so the concept of stealthy ”unmanned wingman” drones has been introduced. A survey says that the IAF needs at least 200 more fighters jets to strongly defend Chinese Air Force and Pakistan Air Force. Each HAL designed unmanned wingman is projected to cost approximately $3 million. Hindustan Aeronautics considers the project to develop and deploy the unmanned wingman as a race against time.
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