Aero India 2023 | Indo-US Air-Launched Unmanned UAV likely to be flight tested later this year 

Keep your eyes in the sky and watch out for the rest of the week, says Rear Admiral Michael Baker on participation of F-35 aircraft in Aero India

Published - February 12, 2023 11:20 pm IST - Bengaluru

Aero India 2023

Aero India 2023 | Photo Credit: PTI

A prototype of the Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV) developed jointly by India and the United States is likely to be flight tested later this year, said a member of the U.S. government delegation to Aero India 2023.

Speaking to reporters on the eve of the air show, Major General Julian C. Cheater, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, International Affairs said, ”There is certainly some progress with respect to the ALUAV, this project arrangement was signed last year and we are expecting to conduct flight testing as early as the fall [September-November] of 2023. The flight testing will occur at a range in northern India as well as in the U.S.,” said Major General Cheater.

In 2021, the Indian Ministry of Defence and U.S. Department of Defense signed a Project Agreement for ALUAV, under the Joint Working Group Air Systems in the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).

Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and the Aerospace Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, along with the Indian and U.S. Air Forces, are the principal organisations for execution of the project agreement.

The ALUAV is being developed to be launched from an aircraft and Major General Cheater said that it would be launched from the C130J aircraft.

“We will develop sensors on the package and we expect that this particular UAV would most likely be launched from the C130J aircraft. That signifies a seven-year project arrangement. It is a long-term agreement and it also involves technology transfer that is a great step in the relationship of the two countries,” Major General Cheater said.

F-35 participation at expo

On the likely participation of the U.S.’s F-35 stealth aircraft in the Aero India 2023, a member of the delegation said that if it did, it would be the most advanced aircraft in the airshow.

“With regard to the F-35, if they are going to come to this air show... it would be the most advanced fighter in the world. We already have two F-18s on ground, we also have two F-16 Vipers and you should keep your eyes in the skies and watch out for the rest of the week for the other aircraft that would be coming later,” said Rear Admiral Michael Baker, senior defence official and defence attaché at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

The delegation also said that it would be too premature for the U.S. to offer the F-35 to India.

The head of the U.S. delegation to Aero India, Ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones, said that India and the United States are working together in many ways to ensure a free and open, prosperous, connected, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, where democracies can thrive.

“As partners, we are working together to address climate change; improve global health and prepare for new pandemics; cooperate on cyber challenges; build quality infrastructure; and ensure sustainable supply chains. We are strengthening our cooperation on critical technologies, from space components to semiconductors,” said Ms. Jones.

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