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Explained: Why RudraM-II Air-Launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM) is bad news for Chinese Assets in Tibet

Source : Swarajya

Explained: Why RudraM-II Air-Launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM) is bad news for Chinese Assets in Tibet
RudraM-II ALBM tested from Sukhoi Su-30 MKI. (PIB)

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested India’s first indigenously developed air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) — RudraM-II — on 29 May.

The missile was launched from an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jet.

The flight test was conducted off the coast of Odisha at around 11:30 am. The missile met all objectives, validating the propulsion system, control, and guidance algorithm.

This is the second test of the indigenously developed ALBM.

The first test was conducted sometime in 2023 or early 2024. In a video released by the IAF on 17 February 2024, a Su-30 MKI jet can be seen releasing the RudraM-II missile.

Poster of Rudram-2 in displayed in Aero India 2023.

Poster of Rudram-2 in displayed in Aero India 2023.

The RudraM-II missile is expected to have a range of 300 kilometres.

RudraM is a series of anti-radiation and land-attack missiles developed by DRDO.

India has completed testing of the RudraM-I anti-radiation missile (ARM) and is awaiting orders.

Anti-radiation missiles are designed to target enemy equipment that emits electromagnetic radiation, ie, radars and active jammers. RudraM-I will only be used in anti-radiation roles and has a range of 180 kilometres.

Unlike the RudraM-I, RudraM-II and RudraM-III will be ALBMs, with ranges of 300 kilometres and more than 600 kilometres, respectively.

Both of these missiles will have two different variants, one with an anti-radiation seeker to destroy air defence radars and the second with an IIR seeker to destroy heavily fortified bunkers.

According to posters released by the DRDO, both of these missiles will have a terminal velocity of more than a Mach (1 Mach is equal to the speed of sound), making them very hard to defend against.

These missiles, with their high speeds, quasi-ballistic trajectories, and low cost, make them ideal weapons to target Chinese static infrastructure, such as airfields, heavily fortified bunkers, radar stations, tunnels, and ammunition depots, large numbers of which have mushroomed in Tibet since the standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) began in 2020.

BrahMos missile due to its high cost and limited numbers cannot be used to target all this infrastructure.

In recent times, most modern air forces have started to induct ALBMs into their inventories.

ALBMs are cheaper than cruise missiles and easier to manufacture. Moreover, their high speeds, terminal velocity (to the tune of Mach 1 or more), high manoeuvrability, and quasi-ballistic trajectory make them extremely difficult to intercept by air defence systems.

Take, for example, the Russian Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile.

It is nothing but an Iskander ballistic missile modified for launch from a fighter jet.

Specification sheet of ROCKS missile. (Rafael)

Specification sheet of ROCKS missile. (Rafael)

Similarly, the Israeli Air Force uses the Rampage and ROCKS ALBMs. Rampage is essentially an EXTRA rocket meant to be fired from ground-based multi-launch rocket systems (MLRS), modified to be launched from fighter jets with a strike range anywhere between 150 to 250 kilometres. It uses an INS/GPS kit to find its targets.

ROCKS, on the other hand, is a modified version of the Blue Sparrow missile — a target missile that the Israelis use to simulate various Iranian ballistic missile targets for training — with a guidance kit from Spice-2000 bombs.

This includes an Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System (INS/GPS) based navigation system with an electro-optical (EO) and an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker for the terminal phase.

In fact, the Israelis successfully used the ROCKS missile to target Iran last month, where it is claimed to have destroyed a highly advanced and potent Russian-made S-300 air defence system.

The IAF has also jumped on this bandwagon.

Rampage missile on display by the Indian Navy. (X/ @IN_GNA)

Rampage missile on display by the Indian Navy. (X/ @IN_GNA)

Both the Rampage and ROCKS missiles are in operation with the IAF and the Indian Navy. Both are also looking to induct these missiles in large quantities and start manufacturing these ALBMs in India.

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