India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has achieved a significant milestone with the successful flight test of its Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator (AFTWTD), a high-speed, tailless, stealth Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). This impressive feat marks India’s entry into the elite club of nations mastering the complex controls of flying-wing technology.
The AFTWTD’s maiden flight took place in July 2022, followed by six additional trials using two indigenously built prototypes. These tests led to advancements in vital areas like aerodynamic and control systems, real-time and hardware-in-the-loop simulation integration, and the development of a state-of-the-art Ground Control Station. The team meticulously optimized avionics systems, integration, and flight operations, culminating in the successful seventh flight in the final configuration.
The AFTWTD’s intricate arrowhead wing design and lightweight carbon prepreg composite material, developed indigenously, showcase India’s commitment to “Aatmanirbharta” (self-reliance) in aerospace technology. The composite structure, embedded with fiber interrogators for health monitoring, further underscores this dedication to technological independence.
Another remarkable feature of the AFTWTD is its autonomous landing capability. This unique feat eliminates the need for ground radars, infrastructure, or pilots, allowing for take-off and landing from any runway with surveyed coordinates. This is achieved through onboard sensor data fusion coupled with indigenous satellite-based augmentation, employing GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) receivers for enhanced accuracy and integrity of GPS navigation.
Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh lauded DRDO, the Armed Forces, and the industry for the successful AFTWTD flight trial. He emphasized the significance of developing such critical technologies indigenously, stating that it will further strengthen the Indian Armed Forces.
Dr. Samir V Kamat, Secretary of the Department of Defence R&D and Chairman of DRDO, also congratulated the teams involved in this groundbreaking achievement.
The successful flight of the AFTWTD marks a significant leap forward for India’s aerospace capabilities. This technology has the potential to revolutionize aerial warfare, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. As India continues to refine and develop this technology, it is poised to play a major role in shaping the future of military aviation.