MBDA, a European developer and manufacturer of missiles, plans to offer next generation air combat capabilities for the Indian Air Force.
The company which was formed as a joint venture by a merger of the guided missile divisions of Airbus, Leonardo, and BAE Systems in Europe is exhibiting a full range of missiles and missile systems at the at India’s premier air show – Aero India 2019.
“The system are designed to provide next generation air combat capabilities, including air dominance, strike and maritime engagement, for the Indian Air Force,” said a senior company executive.
Air Dominance system on display at Aero India in Bengaluru from February 20 to 24 include:
METEOR is MBDA’s ramjet powered and network-enabled beyond visual range air-to-air missile, which is widely recognised as a game changer for air combat. Key to this is Meteor’s throttleable ramjet engine, active radar seeker and data-link that combine to provide unmatched end-game speed and manoeuvrability at greatly extended ranges, resulting in its all-important ‘No-Escape Zone’ being several times greater than any other existing or planned BVR weapons. Meteor is a six-European nation programme that will provide the key future BVR air-to-air armament for Europe’s new generation of combat platforms. The Indian Air Force is receiving this unrivalled system on its new Rafale aircraft.
ASRAAM is being delivered to the IAF as its New Generation Close Combat Missile programme. With its large rocket motor, and clean aerodynamic design, ASRAAM has unrivalled speed and resultant aerodynamic manoeuvrability and range. ASRAAM gives it a high kinematic capability that delivers superior end-game performance for within visual range air combat. ASRAAM will arm the IAF’s upgraded Jaguar fleet, and potentially other IAF platforms.
MICA is being delivered for the IAF’s Mirage 2000 upgrade and for Rafale. Showcased on MBDA’s stand, this is the only missile in the world featuring two inter-operable seekers (active radar and imaging infrared) to cover the spectrum from close-in dogfight to long beyond visual range. Its ability to fly out to BVR in passive mode before the seeker locks on in the final stages of the end game has earned it the nickname “silent killer” as the target has little time to react or to deploy effective countermeasures.
MISTRAL ATAM has been delivered to India to equip the HAL weaponised version of the Advanced Light Helicopter, the ALH Rudra. The system is based on two launchers each deploying two MBDA air-to-air Mistral missiles. Given the wide range of roles that the Rudra will have to undertake, ATAM will provide the helicopter’s crew with a weapon that is not only easy to use but one that can be operated in the whole flight envelope from nap of the earth to 15,000ft and at flight speeds from hovering to up to 200 knots. The same system has successfully undergone integration on the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) platform also manufactured by HAL.
BRIMSTONE goes from strength to strength with trials and combat deployment clearly demonstrating the unmatched capabilities of this weapon in meeting the operational challenges of today. Trials have included firing at targets moving at speeds of up to 70 miles per hour (mph), i.e approximately 112.66 kilometres per hour (kmh), from a variety of launch conditions. These include long range and high off-boresight. Test scenarios have also simulated a cluttered road environment, as typically encountered during recent conflicts. Every shot achieved a direct hit on the target. BRIMSTONE has won international acclaim following its successful combat deployment during recent operations in Libya and Afghanistan and more recently Syria. Precision surface strikes are a major feature of today’s air force mission and BRIMSTONE with its dual millimetric wave radar and semi-active laser (SAL) seeker gives the pilot a great deal of flexibility.
A salvo of BRIMSTONES can be launched in fire-and-forget mode or, should man-in-the loop be required because of complex operational conditions, the SAL mode can be selected. BRIMSTONE’s unique capabilities have also been proved from attack helicopters, with highly successful trials being conducted in the US from Apache, from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with excellent trials successes from the Predator/Reaper family of unmanned UAVs, and also as a surface-to-surface weapon. Whether air or surface launched, BRIMSTONE is the only weapon currently available that can engage not only fast moving land targets but also swarming FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Craft), a fast emerging and worrying threat in coastal waters.
Deep strike is a major requirement for a modern air force. The ability to deliver precision strike against high value targets such as well protected control bunkers/centres, key infrastructures and military installations from a safe stand-off distance is crucial in the early days of a conflict as was shown in Iraq and Libya. At Aero India 2019, MBDA is displaying Scalp/Storm Shadow which is in operational service on the French Air Force’s Rafale aircraft (as well as with other Air Forces) and which has proved its unerring and unmatched ability to combine very long range with devastating target effect during combat operations carried out by the air forces of the UK, France and Italy.
SMARTGLIDER is another long-range strike weapon and is optimised to counter anti-access strategies and other emerging battlespace threats. It forms a family of all-up-round glide weapons, with folding wings and a range of over 100 km allowing the combat platform to stay at safe distance from the enemy defences. With the smallest member of the SmartGlider family being just 120 kg, a Rafale will be able to carry as many as 18 – allowing the destruction of multiple targets or the saturation of even the most complex air defence systems.
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