The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently successfully tested the guided bomb which is capable of destroying airstrips. The weapon has been under development by the state-owned agency in collaboration with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Research Centre Imarat (RCI). To be inducted soon into the Armed Forces, the lightweight Glide Bomb, SAAW (Smart Anti Airfield Weapon) is capable of engaging ground targets with high precision up to a range of 100 kms, and can be launched from SU-30 aircraft. The indigenous lightweight high precision guided bomb is being touted as a world-class weapon system. Director General, Missiles and Strategic System, DRDO, G Satheesh Reddy described it as “a significant milestone in the indigenous capability to develop guided bombs”. The guided bomb, successfully tested from IAF aircraft at Integrated Test Range (ITR), Odisha and guided through precision navigation system, reached the targets at greater than 70 km range, with high accuracy. A total of three tests with different release conditions and ranges were conducted and all were successful.
According to DRDO, conventional 1000 lb class of aircraft bombs offer more drag, thereby adversely attesting the operational efficiency of modern high speed aircraft. Keeping this in view, DRDO has designed and developed high speed low drag (HSLD) bombs suitable for carriage and release by modern aircraft. These bombs are effective against ground targets like railway yards /bridges, major installations, bunkers, runways and hardened targets. Earlier this year, IAF had also successfully tested 500-kg precision guided HSLD bomb in Rajasthan. Developed by the Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), General Purpose Bomb ‘PGHSLD-500’ underwent flight trials released from Su-30MKI at Air Force Station, Jodhpur, fitted on a hard point and was released from an altitude of 5 km to validate its separation performance and to estimate stability.
During the carriage trials, the aircraft touched the carriage limits of 0.85 at 150 m altitude and completed 6.5 ‘g’ and full roll manoeuvres. The bomb can be carried on various in-service aircraft like Jaguar, MiG and other advanced combat aircraft of the IAF. Scheduled to be ready in seven years, the next-generation airborne early warning and control system (AWACS), with a 360-degree scan and angle of coverage as against 200-km range, is being developed by the DRDO. It would also double up as an air-to-air refueller following a request by the IAF, according to DRDO, making India the second country in the world after Israel to develop such a system.
The Airbus A-330, a medium to long-range wide-body twin-engine jet, which emerged as the single bidder for the tender floated by India, is expected to be the platform for the next generation AWACS systems, which will double up as mid-air refuellers.
Today, the indigenous 240-degree angle of Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) built by the DRDO on the Brazilian Embraer-145 modified jet for the IAF is already in service. The new system being developed by DRDO would have AESA (active electronically scanned array) radars with 360-degree capability, which can detect incoming aerial threats like hostile fighters, drones and cruise missiles from 400 km away. The IAF is already using the Israeli Phalcon AWACS on the Russian IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft—though it is a fuel guzzler—to detect aerial threats from jets or missiles even from targets 400 km away.