The project, which envisions Jaguar land attackers launching up to 24 killer drones and shooting down individual targets, already has the Indian Air Force on board, with at least two startups and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is involved. Development told ET.
The Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) is also involved in helping build artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities for target acquisition.
Developed under the Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) project, the plan is to complete the development process within four years. They said the project would include the development of four separate systems that would be tested in parallel. Design is in progress.
According to current plans, the system will be designed around a manned Jaguar land attack aircraft used in deep-penetration attack missions, sources said. The mothership will be modified to include four pods. Each pod will be able to fly with the Jaguar once released.
The concept is to carry six hunter killer drones that each pod can fire towards the target area. The pods are designed for autonomous operation, allowing the Jaguar crew to stay out of range and point the pods at the anti-aircraft weapons environment.
A Very High Altitude Long Endurance (VHALE) unmanned aerial vehicle is also designed that can monitor the system and provide real-time feedback to the controller. VHALE is designed to wander over 70,000 feet in bursts for several days, allowing you to stay out of range of most air defense systems while constantly monitoring your target area.
A detailed presentation of the system was given to the Air Force, which has shown a keen interest in the project, according to sources. The next step is to test the individual systems after the design process is complete.
This project has led India to the League of Nations with such technology, with the other countries being France and the United States. According to sources, the initial forecast was to keep development and prototype costs below Rs 1,000, making the system cost-effective.
India has combat power in the neighborhood when it comes to fighters, but a constant threat is the advanced air defense system acquired by the enemy.
The Chinese side is deploying the newly acquired S400 air defense system near Aksai Chin and developing its own equipment that may be shared with Pakistan in the near future.
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