The state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is anticipating receiving government approval for funding of over Rs 700 crore to develop an indigenous High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS). This project is a part of the drone warfare program being carried out for the defence forces.

The HAL is implementing this project in collaboration with the Bengaluru-based National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). About three-four years’ time will be required to develop the HAPS whereas the initial prototype will cost less than Rs 50 crore.

The scaled prototype will have a 70-feet wing span and HAL is expecting approval for the clearance of funds by October.

“We will get the approval sometime in October. First there will be a scaled prototype of about 70-feet wing span. The initial prototype may cost less than Rs 50 crore. It will take a minimum of 3-4 years to develop HAPS. We are already working on its design. Moreover, funds will be utilised over a long period of time,” an official working closely with the project said.

“I can confirm that we are far ahead in terms of development of HAPS. We have started this project as part of our unmanned drone warfare program called Combined Air Teaming System (CATS),” HAL Chairman R Madhavan was quoted by the Indian Express.

He added, “Soon an institutional prototype will be ready. The entire development of HAPS will take a few years. The initial investment which we required was Rs 700 crore, but this will be spent over the years.”

The HAPS will weigh over 500 kg and can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet and even stay up there for months. It will utilise the solar energy and will be put into use in the telecommunications and the remote sensing sectors that will be looking after both defence and civilian purposes.

The HAPS is designed in order to act as a bridge between the conventional satellites and the UAV.

On being aligned with HAL developed unmanned warfare program Combined Air Teaming System (CATS), HAPS could coordinate in strike missions providing communication to the troops with live video feeds and images. This could also help in determining if the mission is successful.

The CATS developed by the public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will redefine aerial warfare. The latest technological leap was conceived more than two years ago. UAVs have been carrying out all the missions solo but with the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning they can carry out missions autonomously without any control from the ground. This gives them an opportunity to execute teaming. They can be small as they do not have a pilot inside. But when they are small the sensors are small and the range becomes smaller. Therefore, they need a manned aircraft to aid them in firing long range weapons. For the past one year the HAL has been working on how to develop teaming which is based on AI.