The Warrior teaming drone revealed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at Aero India 2021 today could transition to detailed design phase by 2024.
Ahead of that a scaled down version of the drone is planned for the next 1-2 years which will be a flying concept.
HAL is developing the Warrior to work both autonomously and as part of a team with the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) and other jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The drone is planned to venture into hostile territory while its controller aircraft would remain at a stand-off distance. It can be equipped with a variety of weapons including an airfield destroying missile and air to ground bombs.
HAL executives told Defenseworld.net at the show that concept displayed will progress to design work if there is an interest from the user (Indian Air Force). The life-size model displayed at the event has caused quite a bit of excitement from Indian and foreign participants besides the media.
The quality, fit and finish of the Warrior concept exceeds that of other concepts shown by HAL in the past.
Currently not much is known about the drone's engine or flying characteristics. The concept displays a twin jet engine layout with flashy red jet exhaust for effect.
The Warrior is being developed as a stealth drone as can be seen from its design cues and paint scheme. The HAL executives told Defenseworld.net correspondent that the stealth technology will be adapted from the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) project of India's DRDO which aims to develop a stealth jet aircraft.
Current world concepts in teaming drones include the Russian Su-57 plus the Okhotnik drone, the Boeing Loyal Wingman and the Franco-German Future Combat Air System (FCAS).
Warrior is part of an indigenous programme called Combat Air Teaming System (CATS). It is being designed to operate with India’s Tejas fighter.
HAL has been working on drone warfare concepts for over 5 years now. It is presently working towards the design, development and integration of key subsystems of the aircraft.
The idea is to maximise the effectiveness of every mission while reducing the potential of losing the lives of precious pilots since they would be accompanied by the drones which would protect them. The Warrior is being armed with air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles which would be used to hit targets on the ground or in the air.
The Warrior, while not an out-and-out stealth platform, which would allow it to evade being picked up by radar, is classified 'low observable', which makes its detection challenging for contemporary systems.