India’s new Warrior combat drone to redefine and elevate aerial warfare skills, says GlobalData

Following the news that India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has showcased a scale model of Warrior combat drone during Aero India 2021;

Tushar M, Aerospace & Defense Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view:

“The unveiling of Combat Air Teaming System (CATS) Warrior is anticipated to significantly enhance the combat potential of the existing combat aircrafts. The combat drone will have an impact on the future military doctrines and change the strategies and tactics to be cognizant of intelligent networks. Based on the analysis of the images released, the Warrior can be classified as a low observable platform and has the capability to carry 2 Smart Anti-Airfield Weapons in its internal bays.

“The Warrior is expected to operate alongside manned combat aircrafts to penetrate the heavily defended enemy airspace and strike high-value targets. Apart from its primary role of carrying digital payloads such as radars, EO-IR sensors and jammers to support manned aircrafts, the drone is also being configured to deliver precision guided air-to-ground weapons and air-to-air missiles. This capability will enable the armed forces to maximize mission effectiveness and execute a co-ordinated strike on enemy positions using a combination of manned and unmanned platforms. Apart from the air force, the navy may also configure Warrior to fly along-side the maritime surveillance aircrafts to extend their coverage area.

“The Warrior drone was developed under the indigenous CATS program by HAL in partnership with Bengaluru-based start-up Newspace Research and Technologies. The entry of technology start-ups in the defence market is an encouraging move and will facilitate the R&D of next-generation technologies. The first Warrior prototype is being funded by HAL and is expected to fly within five years. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to retire the Mig-21 and few Jaguar squadrons in the coming years, thereby creating a gap in its combat capabilities.

“Although the Warrior is not a replacement for manned aircraft, its rapid development and induction will enable the IAF to improve its strike capabilities and make up for the critical shortage of combat aircrafts. The Warrior has a stated range of 800 kms and has a flight endurance of 80 minutes. It has a Maximum Take-off Weight (MTOW) of 1.3 tons, including 250kg payload and has a top speed of 0.7 Mach. Each Warrior is expected to cost around US$5m.”

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