The 13th edition of the biennial aerospace and defence exhibition was the first such global event to be held in the India since the Covid-19 outbreak. Aero India 2021, the largest air show in Asia, is usually a big draw for aviation groups and a platform for aerospace and defence manufacturers—both domestic and foreign—to display of their top offerings.
This year had a both physical and virtual displays and a negative report of a RT-PCR test for Covid-19 was a must to attend. About 540 exhibitors including 80 foreign companies, defence ministers, delegates, service chiefs and officials from more than 55 nations participated.
Here is the best from Aero India 2021
1. Combat Air Teaming System
Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has unveiled a developmental air-teaming system that will incorporate the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft with various unmanned assets.
The CATS Warrior is a low-observable unmanned wingman, which is controlled from CATS MAX. A full-size CATS Warrior mock-up displayed at the Aero India show in Bengaluru also featured MBDA’s ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missile, designated NGCCM (New Generation Close Combat Missile) in Indian air force service.
Another element involves swarming UAVs called CATS ALFA (Air Launched Flexible Assets), which can be launched from CATS-MAX and work as a swarm of weaponised drones, as well as the CATS Hunter multi-purpose weapons carriage system.
A high-altitude, long-endurance UAV is also being considered as part of CATS.
Much of the work is being done by HAL, which is also partnering with Indian start-ups to deliver the programme. Scale models are expected to begin testing in the near future. Since the Tejas lacks an operational datalink, HAL is looking to integrate an indigenous datalink that is being tested on the Hawk-i – a locally modified version of the BAE Systems Hawk 132.
The powerplant selected for the CATS Warrior is HAL’s PTAE-7, which will be uprated with FADEC controls and new long-life parts. The PTAE-7 was originally developed in the late 1980s as a powerplant for target drones.
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