US companies, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, are in talks with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for a possible collaboration for developing an indigenous rotary engine-powered UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and an Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).

Common platform

Rotary UAV is a programme of the Indian Navy in which HAL, ADE and the Indian Navy with certification from the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC), have come together on one platform to design and develop it.

ADE, which has already successfully test-flown the Rustom UAV, has the expertise to develop UAVs and this is for the first-time that all the defence institutions are coming together to develop a rotary UAV. Developing a rotary UAV is a challenging task, given the fact that UAV has to land on a moving ship. It has to take into consideration a yaw motion (a side-to side movement) of the bow of the ship and Pitch (the rotation of a vessel about its side-to-side).

For AMCA, DRDO is planning to integrate certain fifth generation capabilities. “Fifth generation requires stealth, super cruise and thrust factor. All these three areas are being integrated into the AMCA.”

Boeing and Lockheed Martin are to make a presentation to DRDO during the forthcoming Aero India show in Bengaluru, said K Tamilmani, DS & DG Aeronautical Systems at DRDO.


Considering the improved ties with US and opportunities in Russia, DRDO is exploring government-to-government (G-to-G) support for various aircraft engine upgrades.

Talks with private companies and engaging with foreign government is part of the DRDO’s goal to engage with the private sector for collaborations and productions with regards to its various development programmes.


Talking of indigenisation of LCA, Tamilmani said DRDO is making efforts to increase it from 65 per cent at present to 80 per cent in three years. DRDO currently has 364 LRUs (line replaceable units) of which 164 LRUs are ‘made in India’ and the rest (109) are imported from foreign vendors.

Tamilmani said, “DRDO has identified local vendors, who can produce them locally and save precious foreign exchange for the country. It is to the tune of ₹700 crore, the budget which the LCA programme has set aside.”

The process has already started and by the time LCA Mark II is ready, 80 to 85 per cent indigenisation will be achieved. Tamilmani said Aero India, this year, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The theme for the tenth international edition of the aerospace and aviation exhibition is ‘Make in India’.

Aero India show

The Indian flying team will comprise LCH, Tejas, Dhruv, Rudra, Sukhoi and Tiger Moth. The foreign military aircraft at the air show will include F-15C Eagle, Lockheed F-16C, Boeing KC-135, Boeing C-17, Rafale and Embraer EMB-145I.

The foreign civil aircraft participation will include PC-12 NG, Falcon 2000, Phenom 100E, Boeing B 75, Boeing A 75, Viking, Catwalk, WASP, RRJ 95, EMB 505, Bell 407 GX Helicopter, King Air 350 ER, 19-seater Turbo Prop AI Industry, Z Lin Z 50 LX, OmaSud Sky Car, Falcon 7 X and Dornier 228-New Gen.