Source : Indian Defence Analysis
Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets
As per the latest report from ANI, The Indian Air Force has asked the French firm Dassault Aviation to integrate the Indian weapons into its 4.5th generation fighter jet Rafale. At present the 36 Rafale procured by Indian Air Force comes up with western weapons such as ASRAAM, MICA & Meteor air-to-air missiles, Hammer and SCALP air launched stand-off weapons.
Since these weapons are imported & not made in India, they are costly. At the same time DRDO has developed plethora of air launched weapons such as Astra Mark-1, Rudram-1, SAAW anti-airfield weapons which are of world class and at the same time much cheaper than the import option.
The Indian air force has asked Dassault Aviation to integrate weapons like Astra and SAAW to the Rafale fighter jet. The proposition makes perfect sense as Indian Navy is also in process to acquire 26 Rafale Marine. The integration of Indian weapons will ease the logistics for the armed forces besides saving forex on import.
Rafale is also being operated by countries such as France, India, Egypt, Qatar, Greece, Croatia, UAE & Indonesia. The integration of Indian weapon further open avenues of exporting and offering this to other operators for the Rafale.
BDL and Dassault Aviation Pvt Ltd entered into MoU for integration of BDL Weapon Systems like Astra & SAAW on Rafale Aircraft for Indian Armed Forces.The MoU will also open avenues for export to friendly countries. pic.twitter.com/mXItJFEcW1
— Cmde A. Madhavarao (Retd.) (@CMDBDL) October 20, 2022
BDL & Dassault MoU
Its also important to note that the work has already started towards integrating Indian weapons in Rafale. On 20th October, BDL and Dassault Aviation Pvt Ltd has entered into a MoU for integration of BDL Weapon Systems like Astra & SAAW on Rafale Aircraft for Indian Air Force. The MoU will also open avenues for export to friendly countries and BDL will be able to offer Indian weapons such as Astra, SAAW to the Rafale operators.
The Astra Mark-1 & SAAW are most likely to be integrated first. Astra Mark-1 with a range of 110km will boost the Rafale’s BVR capability. In future it will pave the way for integration for Astra Mark-2 & Mark-3 which will greatly boost the BVR capability of Rafales.
SAAW (Smart Anti Airfield Weapon)
Unlike the normal bombs, which may not hit the precise target due to the environmental condition, SAAW uses a navigation system which has higher precision and is cheaper than missiles which have similar precision.
The SAAW can currently be launched from the Jaguar and Su-30MKI aircraft. SU-30 MKI can literally carry 32 SAAW bombs with them which can take out a plethora of targets. SAAW has a length of 1.85m and weighs close to 125 KG with warhead of 80 kg. The bomb has impressive accuracy with CEP (Circular Error Probability) less than 7m. It uses IN-GPS and Gagan for navigation. For those who are not aware of GAGAN, It is GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation jointly developed by ISRO and AAI to provide the best possible navigational services over Indian FIR (Flight Information Region) with the capability of expanding to neighboring FIRs. The bomb uses PCB/FCB warheads with programmable impact delayed fuse.
EO-SAAW or Electro optical SAAW
DRDO India is also working on an advance version of this bomb called EO-SAAW or Electro optical SAAW, similar to Rafael’s SPICE250. EO-SAAW variant will make use of Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) Seeker systems for terminal homing. The IIR seeker has already been tested against the Anti-Tank Guided Missiles Nag, HELINA and MPATGM, Exo-Atmospheric Interceptor PDV and Anti-Satellite Test (ASAT). EO-SAAW will have improved accuracy with CEP reducing to less than 3m. The weapon will have a day/night and all-weather capabilities with Auto Target Acquisition algorithm. It Will be utilizing unique Digital Scene Matching Area Correlator technology to overcome GPS jamming. This version of SAAW was tested in November 2021.
SAAW with dual seeker (IIR+MMW)
DRDO is further extending the capability of SAAW by using dual seeker i.e., with the use of IIR seeker along with MMW (Millimetre wave) seeker technology. The one disadvantage with IIR seeker is that its effectiveness reduces in the battlefield condition such as dust, smoke, rain, fog, now, haze and low cloud cover. This is where MMW seeker is used. It will further boost the accuracy of the SAAW. This dual seeker variant of SAAW will also have AI capabilities for the tracking & assigning itself both static & moving targets. The stand-off weapon can also initiate self-aware evasive manoeuvres if needed.
By this time, you would have understood why SAAW is important missile for IAF. It is also possible that BrahMos Aerospace may sign similar MoU in future for the integration of BrahMos-NG with Rafale. Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets Indian Air Force to integrate Astra BVR and SAAW into Rafale jets IgMp