The Aero India 2021 is all set to start from February 3, but the aerospace geeks started sharing pictures from the stalls which were being setup by the companies to show their products during the exhibit.
One such stall is from Defence PSU’s (HAL) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. HAL has showcased many models in their stalls but out of all models the lineup of CATS (Combat Air Teaming System) Drones is the point of attraction.
HAL has showcased its 3 different Drones under CATS lineup. They are the HUNTER an air launched Wingman, The ALFA an air launched Swarms drone and the obviously the WARRIOR the loyal Wingman.
This all three system is part Combat Air Teaming and will fly side by side with a combat aircraft.
As of now there is no official confirmation on the role of HUNTER. Most likely HUNTER is an air launched Wingman which is retractable but at the same time capable in conducting kamikaze (suicide) missions as it carries around 250 KG of warhead.
As you can see in the image there are 2 Variants of HUNTER attached with the LCA Pylons. The first one with transparent fuselage is equipped with AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar.
While the second HUNTER drone is carrying an optical sensor (Infrared Search & Track) in its nose. Both of these platforms will be used to provide additional intelligence to combat aircraft and if required it can also act as a cruise missile.
ALFA is a system which carries 4 swarm drones inside its container. It can be launched from a combat aircraft. The container or we the carrier has a range of about 75 KM (estimated) once launched from an aircraft.
After 75 KM, all the 4 swarm drones will get separated from its carrier and these swarm drones can travel around 100-150 KM in its own propulsion.
Overall ALFA has a range of about 175-225 KM, making it an excellent standoff weapon. LCA Tejas can carry 4 ALFA in its hardpoint, meaning 20 kamikaze swarm drones.
The main center of attraction is the ‘WARRIOR’. It is a loyal Wingman which will be controlled by the pilot of its mother ship, in this case LCA Tejas or Rafale.
As we can see from the image that the WARRIOR is having a stealthy profile, it can carry precision guided munitions and air-to-air missiles in its internal weapons bay.
The early variant of UAV will be powered by 2 PTA7E engines. PTA7E is capable of generating thrust of around 4 KN.
It has a cruise speed of around 0.95 mach and has a range of about 800 KM. The maximum take off weight is 1,300 KG and it can carry a payload of about 250 KG internally and 250 KG on the external pylons.
Small in size and edgy design of the platform, makes a highly stealthy aircraft, and the absence of afterburner engines further reduces the overall IR signature of the platform.
In all together all the three teaming system is going to significantly increase the combat capability of any aircraft.