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India's stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) program is taking shape, with the first images surfacing from the design optimization and concept definition phase.
The flying-wing concept, designated the Indian Unmanned Strike Air Vehicle (IUSAV), is a derivative of existing flying-wing UAVs such as the European Neuron and Boeing Phantom Ray. But in fresh indications coming from the Bengaluru-based team developing the platform, the IUSAV, code-named Aura, could see a first prototype flight by 2015-16, with deliveries by the end of the decade. Such timelines are ambitious—especially for a program involving technologies that India has never before attempted—but the Indian air force (IAF) and government decided to accord special funding and other support to keep the IUSAV on schedule. The director of the Indian Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), V.K. Saraswat, recently visited Sweden, where he is believed to have had discussions with Saab on India's unmanned efforts, including the IUSAV. Saraswat's presentation at the Aerospace Forum there—where he described the IUSAV as an “unmanned bomber”—also revealed that IUSAV program laboratories were pursuing development of radar-absorbent paint and materials, cool exhaust signatures for infrared suppression, conformal sensors and antennas, data links and flying-wing aerodynamics. His presentation also illustrated elaborate threat scenarios involving future combat air systems, which included not just the IUSAV but also an indigenous fifth-generation stealth fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, and the Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft, or PAK FA.
Representatives from Dassault, Saab and BAE Systems say that all three companies are in discussions with the DRDO for possible technology partnerships in the IUSAV project. DRDO sources indicate that teams from the organization have been invited to visit facilities in France and the U.K., respectively, where the Neuron and BAE Taranis are being developed.
I'm sure there are similar UCAV's out there but does it ring a bell that the RQ170 was lost in Iran and that there might be any connection here? I'm sure the Chinese and Russians have the details as well from the Iranian reverse engineering process (if any). Just a WAG.
The Indian Defense Research and Development Organization is working on RAM paint, curving inlets, and cooling systems for the exhaust. It would be India's first stealthy design.