India has successfully conducted the maiden flight of an unmanned autonomous flying wing technology demonstrator. This is the first yet vital step towards building a full-fledged stealth combat drone capable of firing missiles and dropping bombs.



  • In June 2021, the Indian Air Force (IAF) base in Jammu was attacked using two low-intensity improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These IEDs were dropped from two drones.
  • It was the first time that suspected Pakistan-based terrorists have used unmanned aerial vehicles in an attack.
  • These attacks have restarted a debate around drones as a threat to internal security.



  • India has carried out the maiden flight of the Autonomous Flying Wing Technology Demonstrator.
  • The test of the demonstrator, also known as the ‘Stealth Wing Flying Testbed’ (SWiFT), was successfully conducted from the Aeronautical Test Range, Chitradurga, Karnataka.
  • SWiFT has been developed as a technology demonstrator for India’s secretive steal combat drone called Ghatak.


Key highlights

  • Design and development — The UAV was designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), Bengaluru, a premier research laboratory of DRDO.
  • Reduced sized autonomous aircraft
      • It is a reduced sized autonomous aircraft and is proving various technologies for autonomous aircraft to be built in future.
      • The demonstrator, which looks like the mini version of a US B-2 stealth bomber, has a similar flying wing configuration.
      • This enables it to carry more fuel and remain in air for a longer duration. It also gives the aircraft less radar signature.
  • Indigenous components — The airframe, undercarriage, entire flight control and avionics systems of the SWiFT have been developed indigenously.
  • Russian engine
      • It is currently powered by a small Russian turbofan engine.
      • The engine is Russian TRDD-50MT originally designed for cruise missiles.
      • However, the plan is to build a remotely-piloted strike aircraft with the indigenous Kaveri aero-engine.


Other developments by DRDO

  • DRDO is in the process of developing UAVs of different classes to meet the requirements of the armed forces.
  • Rustom-2, the indigenous Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV is under development.
      • It had crossed a milestone by reaching an altitude of 25,000 feet and an endurance of 10 hours in December 2021.
      • It is being designed to reach an altitude of 30,000 feet and 18 hours endurance.
  • An Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle is also on the drawing board.