MBDA’s Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) appears set for integration on several Indian combat aircraft.
The weapon will be part of the missile armament for Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) Tejas Mk-1A, a combat capable version of the Hawk Mk132 called Hawk-India (Hawk-i) and Sukhoi SU-30MKIs, in addition to upgraded Sepecat/HAL Jaguar strike aircraft.
ASRAAM emerged as the winner of a competitive evaluation for the air force’s ‘New Generation Close Combat Missile’ (NGCCM) programme. MBDA was awarded a £250 million ($428 million) contract in July 2014 to supply the missile for the Jaguar.
The company is keen to produce the weapon in India. “MBDA is committed to setting up an ASRAAM live build facility in India,” it says. “We have opened up our supply chains to Indian businesses.”
HAL is now integrating ASRAAM on two Jaguars.
“Integration will be completed by this year,” says HAL. “Firing trials will be taken up by the air force post integration. On successful completion of trials and demonstrations, HAL will take up series modification of Jaguar aircraft for integration of ASRAAM based on the requirement of the air force.”
In 2009, HAL was contracted to upgrade 61 Jaguars from the Display, Attack, Range and Inertial Navigation-I (DARIN-I) standard to the DARIN-III standard. The air force operates approximately 110 Jaguars of different variants.
HAL is in discussions with the air force for integration of ASRAAM on Tejas Mk-1A, even as it awaits an order for 83 aircraft. “At present, there is no directive from IAF on carrying out the modification.”
MBDA, however, sees a clear opportunity for integrating the weapon with Tejas. “Fitting ASRAAM to Tejas would be consistent with the IAF’s aspiration for ASRAAM to be its fleet-wide short-range air-to-air missile.”
In regard to integrating the weapon on the Su-30MKI, HAL has this to say: “At present, there is no directive from IAF on carrying out modification on Su-30MKI aircraft for integration of ASRAAM. However, HAL is keen to carry out the modification.”
More than 200 SU-30MKIs have been manufactured under licence in India.
HAL has integrated the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on the SU-30MKI, as well as indigenously developed weapons such as the Astra Beyond Visual Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM), New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM), and various precision guided munitions.
In addition to ASRAAM, MBDA’s Brimstone is also being considered for the indigenously developed Hawk-i, which is a HAL funded upgrade of BAE Systems Hawk Mk132 jet trainers, manufactured under license.
“We believe that arming Hawk is a logical step for India, and that ASRAAM and Brimstone together offer a mature and high-performance weapon suite that, if fitted to Hawk, could be decisive in a major conflict….with Brimstone, a single Hawk has the ability to accurately and easily destroy six tanks simultaneously,” says MBDA.