More long-term, Saraswat points to continuing work on the development of very low-observable stealth technology. That includes research on conformal antennas, active radar cross section control and even the use of plasma field generation to suppress an aircraft's radar signature.
To advance work on low-observable air shapes, DRDO also is investigating issues such as thrust vector control and yaw control with spoiler elevons to help control flying wing-shaped air vehicles. Adaptive structures are also on the long-term technology horizon. Saraswat notes that efforts to examine the aerodynamic challenges of using an internal weapons bay are also underway.
Although the Independent Unmanned Surveillance Air Vehicle or Iusav (a precursor to the unmanned combat air vehicle concept) may be the most ambitious unmanned program in DRDO's plan, a number of other efforts are ongoing. More near-term is development of the Rustom-2 UAV, flying at 35,000 ft. with 24-hr. endurance and a 350-kg payload. The system could be operational in 2016, Saraswat says. Initially it will be used for surveillance, but it could evolve into an armed platform.
Also on the agenda is a solar-powered high-altitude unmanned aircraft and a range of enabling technology for large and small unmanned aircraft, including nano-UAVs.
Saraswat stresses that these are not all solo initiatives for India and that DRDO is looking for international partners on many projects.
India's expansive research appetite also continues in the space domain, where Saraswat sees progress advancing on a two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicle and hypersonic launcher, as well as a low-cost expendable reusable launch vehicle.
India is also considering marrying its Agni ballistic missile technology with its ballistic missile-defense kill vehicle to develop a potential anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon. Saraswat stresses, though, that India's policy is not to militarize space, and views the ASAT effort as merely a preventative technology project to deter adversaries.