India’s Loyal Wingman program will be flight tested by 2024

Indian aerospace agency Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s (HAL) stalwart winger program will take flight for the first time in 2024, the developer Told Janes.

The project, officially known as the Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) Warrior, started in 2018 and was exhibited at Aero India last year.

The air team system consists of a manned fighter aircraft serving as a “mothership” and a swarm of low-cost drones with payloads, sensors and warfare capabilities.

Smaller drones fly ahead of their motherships and can be used as decoys to aid, identify and overwhelm opposing air defenses or deflect attacks from manned fighter jets.

About the warrior drone

The CATS Warrior is a low cost twin-engine team drone developed to operate alongside and support Indian Air Force manned fighter jets such as the Tejas or Rafale fighter jets.

The stalwart wingman will be capable of undertaking high potential targets, surveillance, reconnaissance, and attacking air and ground targets. It has a combat radius of 350 kilometers (217 miles) and can be used from land, sea and motherships.

Currently, the drone is undergoing wind tunnel testing. HAL is considering two options for the drone engine: PTAE-7 and HTFE-25. The UCAV engine will be certified by 2025.

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