Defensenews.com reported that on Friday, July 1, India successfully carried out the first flight of the Stealth Wing Flying Testbed, or SWiFT, an autonomous drone technology demonstrator. It is a scaled-down version of the upcoming Ghatak combat drone. The 1-ton SWiFT platform is powered by a Russian NPO Saturn 36MT turbofan engine. The flight took place at the aeronautical test range based at Chitradurga in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The airframe, undercarriage, and flight control and avionics systems were domestically developed. SWiFT demonstrated the ability to autonomously take off, climb, cruise, navigate to waypoints, descend and land. Watch a video of its test flight.
A scientist with the Defense Research and Development Organization noted that at least 10 more flight tests are needed to prove the capability of SWiFT, and only then will the government grant funding for the full-fledged development of the Ghatak UAV. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called the flight a major achievement toward autonomous aircraft that will pave the way for Aatmanirbhar Bharat — an economic initiative meant to make India less dependent on foreign technology — in terms of critical military systems.