(Autonomous Unmanned Research Aircraft)


AURA is an autonomous unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), being developed by DRDO, ADA and GTRE for Indian armed forces. AURA is an R&D name of this project and after completion of this project, the name of this air vehicle will beGhatak. That's why this project is also known as project Ghatak. The design work of AURA is to be carried out by Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). The real R&D work is being frontfooted by IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur. Since 2013, IIT Bombay is doing low speed experiments of UCAV and in 2015, IIT Kanpur were roped in for wind tunnel testing of low Radar Cross Sectional (RCS) intake.


AURA is a highly classified project of India. Over the last few years, a lot of foreign companies like Lockheed-Martin, Dassault, Boeing, BAE Systems,and even MiG Corp had contacted the ADA to offer the assisting in Ghatak programme. But the Narendra Modi government has decided that the stealth component of Ghatak will be entirely in-house, and will be limited to academic institutions and private industry in country. The classified effort to build a stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle formally received sanction as a ‘Lead-in Project’ in May 2016, with the first fund released of "231 crore" to ADA which will design the Ghatak.


This project has a direct oversight from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the National Security Advisor(NSA). Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) has recommended PMO to use Kaveri engine in it which is passed through Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Ministry of Finance (MOF). Ghatak will be powered by a modified dry thrust version of the Kaveri engine. France's NECMA Co. is helping in development of this engine which will generate upto 50 KN thrust.


Indian private company named VEM Technologies based in Bengaluru will be developing the precision guided weapons for Ghatak. A metal full-scale model of the Ghatak is currently under fabrication by this private firm in coordination with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).


Latest update is, by the end of 2018 their is a possiblity of flight test of the scaled down version of Ghatak which is a flying wing planform.The engine used for this test will be Russia's "NPO Saturn 36 MT" turbofan engine. This engine is also used for Nirbhaya missile's trial. But for main prototype testing, a non after-burner variant of Kaveri (Dry varient) engine will be used.


Current Status: Under Development


1.Capable of flying at altitudes of 30,000 ft.
2.Capable of carrying guided strike weapons.
3.Incorporated with Stealth Technology.
4.Weigh less than 15 tonnes.


Mission: Deep penetration strike, suppression of enemy air defences, strategic reconnaissence and electronic warfare.

Protection: Stealthy shape, radar absorbent paint and materials, low radar cross-section features.


Author:Atul Tripathi