With Cold Response To UCAV Query, IAF Throws Weight Behind Indian Programme

Following a totally flat response to its surprise June RFI for a fleet of UCAVs, the Indian Air Force is throwing its weight fully behind India's indigenous UCAV programme, codenamed AURA. The highly classified programme, completely unknown until it was reported on here on Livefist (follow-up posts here and here), is currently working to define a stealth flying-wing UCAV platform. I asked a senior IAF officer recently about the RFI and how it fit in with the AURA programme. He said, "The UCAV we operate will be an Indian platform. The RFI was an exercise to query the international market to get a sense of what is available in terms of platforms and technology. But the platform we finally induct will be an Indian one."

BAE Systems is the only company that confirmed to me that it had responded to the IAF's RFI. The company's India spokesperson Guy Douglas told me, "We did reply to the RFI... However, and as we stated in the RFI response, we are unlikely to be able to offer a realistic response to a UCAV RFP within the immediate timeframe. In July we unveiled Taranis, the world's first stealthy autonomous UCAV. As Taranis is still in the prototype phase of development it would be incorrect to suggest it is available to compete for this programme. Instead we have made it clear that we are very interested in working together with the DRDO, and other agencies and companies in India to help develop an indigenous UAS capability." Since there are no operational UCAV products anywhere on earth that fit the IAF's stated requirements, the IAF had been expecting responses, at the very least, like BAE's.

Dassault Aviation, which also received the RFI, decided not to respond, but is understood to have separately conveyed its openness in partnering India on the AURA programme, though this will have nothing to do with the nEUROn UCAV demonstrator programme. Companies that received the IAF's RFI, but chose not to respond, include Boeing, Lockeed-Martin, General Atomics and EADS. Israel's IAI and Russia's UAC also received the RFI, but did not confirm how or if they responded.

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