AURA is an autonomous unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), being developed by the DRDO for the Indian Air Force. The design work on the UCAV is to be carried out by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). Details of the project are classified. Alternate name for the project is the “Indian Unmanned Strike Air Vehicle (IUSAV)”.
The AURA will be a stealth UCAV, capable of releasing missiles, bombs and precision-guided munitions. The programme is in its project definition stage. The design is in line with what former DRDO chief controller for Aeronautics said in 2007, that India’s combat drone would be a stealthy flying-wing concept aircraft with internal weapons and a turbofan engine.
Projected project cost : US$ 1.5 billion
The ADA describes the AURA as a “self-defending high-speed reconnaissance UAV with weapon firing capability”. The first images released as part of a presentation shows the UAV as having a stealth design. The AURA will cruise at medium altitude and will be capable of carrying two or more guided strike weapons with on-board sensors for targeting and weapon guidance. The flight control system and data link packages of Aura (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) will be designed and developed jointly by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) at Bangalore and Defense Electronic Application Laboratory (Dehradun).
DRDO’s Chief Controller, R&D (aeronautics), Dr Prahlada said, “Capable of flying at altitudes of 30,000 feet and weighing less than 15 tonnes, the UCAVs will have rail-launching for the missiles, bombs and PGMs (precision-guided munitions) they will carry.”. The DRDO is going to use a Kaveri engine to power this unmanned vehicle. The AURA will be an 8-10 tonnes aircraft with a range of 300+ km.
The combat drone, which will be able to detect and identify targets, and even fire weapons at them, will be controlled with command and control centres (CCC) spread across the country, DRDO Chief, V K Saraswat revealed in 2009.
Scientists at DRDO’s Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT), have been working on designing radars and sensors of Aura, the first indigenous UCAV currently under development at the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore.
In an interview, DIAT Vice-Chancellor Prahlada said, “Scientists at DIAT are working on development of radars for the UCAV programme currently under way at ADA. The expected timeline for development of a prototype is about a year-and-a- half from now. The radar will provide C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) capability to the aircraft. Research is on on development of lightweight radars to reduce weight of the aircraft, save maximum energy and provide realtime feedback to the control centre,” said Prahlada.
Aura, a stealth UAV capable of firing precision-guided munitions at targets is expected to add teeth to the country’s existing fleet of UAVs. While the first flight is expected to take place in 2015, the targeted year of induction 2017. Prahlada added, “Work is currently on regarding selection of materials, components and technological aspects of the radars. We are currently working with our own budgets.”
Plans to enter into a collaboration with Israel are under way,” he said.
If everything goes as planned, an off-limits section of ADA in Bangalore, headed by senior aeronautical scientist Biju Uthup, hopes to begin testing a prototype of IUSAV by 2016.
Powerplant : 1 x GTRE GTX-35VS Kaveri (K9 or K10 variant) afterburning turbofan 18,210 lbf (81.0 kN)
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|India||Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO)||Delhi||http://drdo.gov.in/drdo/English|