Rafael fully committed to India’s defense endeavors
In its 2019 Balakot Strike, the Indian Air Force (IAF) used SPICE bombs developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence System to target terrorist safe-havens. Rafael came up with a new variant of its air-to-surface weapon system at the Aero India event, SPICE 250ER, with a mini turbojet engine that gives it a standoff capability. The SPICE 250ER (Extended Range) is a standoff, autonomous, air-to-surface weapon system that strikes targets with pinpoint accuracy and at high attack volumes, independently of GPS navigation, based on its autonomous electro-optic Scene Matching Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms. Its miniature turbojet engine will have an internal JP-8/10 fuel system, providing the weapon a range of at least 150 km while retaining the same mission planning system, aircraft interfaces, and aircrew operations.
Rafael has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) for joint induction of an Anti-Torpedo Defence System called SHADE for the Indian Navy. It will be the first system in the world to employ a combination of soft kill and hard kill decoys, providing an effective defense against modern torpedoes. Earlier, a major electro-optic contract for the IAF was serviced through one of Rafael’s technology partners based in India. The company has been among the first few FOEMs (Foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers) to set up joint ventures in India. Some more joint ventures have been established in the field of land systems, communication, and electronic warfare systems. This has led to the substantial transfer of technology to India encouraging local production and laying the necessary infrastructure to facilitate export activity. This represents an ideal opportunity for Israel and India companies to cooperate and collaborate in the defense manufacturing arena. The company is expanding its local base in India, drawing in MSMEs to manufacture defense sub-systems. In this way, Rafael shows its commitment to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative of the government. The technology provided will be of superior quality, and production would be done in the country itself.
Astra Mark 2 Missile to boost India’s defense plans
Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing the Astra Mark 2 missile, a Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM), with the speed of Mach 4.5. This missile will allow its fighter aircraft to destroy enemy planes from 160 km in aerial combat. The all-weather day and night capable Astra with a strike range of around 100 km is integrated with the indigenous fighter aircraft LCA Tejas.
It will replace the expensive Russian, French and Israeli BVRAAMs. The trials are set to begin in September, and the missile is expected to be fully developed by 2022. With this missile, India joins the US, France, Russia, and Israel ranks in developing complex BVRAAMs. The missile is capable of detecting, tracking, and destroying highly agile hostile supersonic fighters packed with excellent ECCM (Electronic Counter-Counter Measures) to tackle jamming by hostile aircraft, active radar terminal guidance, etc. for high single-shot kill probability in both ‘Head On’ and ‘Tail Chase’ modes. Astra missile will provide India an edge over its two neighbors China and Pakistan.
Rustom 2 to test fly at 27,000 feet
India’s medium altitude long endurance drone Rustom 2 is set to achieve a huge milestone in April when it will fly for more than 18 hours at the height of 27,000 feet; at its test range in Karnataka’s Chitradurga. The drone is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for strategic reconnaissance and surveillance operations. The drone successfully completed the last flight test in October when it flew for 8 hours at an altitude of 16,000 feet.
Rustom 2, also known as Tapas-BH (Tactical airborne Platform for Aerial Surveillance – Beyond Horizon 201), is India’s one more step towards indigenization of defense equipment and weapons. India lagged behind in drone technology and thus had to import it from the USA and Israel. China has actively developed its drone technology at this time. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), along with building drones for the PLA, China has also exported its technology to 13 more countries. Moreover, it gave 4 Wing Loong II armed drones to Pakistan to protect the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Gwadar port. Rustom 2 will strengthen India’s surveillance capabilities and pave the way for developing technology along the same lines.
Assam Regiment and Arunachal Scouts affiliated with 106 Air Squadron
Assam Regiment and Arunachal Scouts of the Indian Army got affiliated with the 106 Air Force Squadron in a historic inter-service affiliation program. The ‘Charter of Affiliation’ was signed by Major General PS Behl, Colonel of the Assam Regiment, and Group Captain Varun Slaria, Commanding Officer of the 106 Squadron at Tezpur, Assam, on 15th February 2021. The regiment’s affiliation with the Su-30 Squadron of Eastern Air Command will assist them in mutual understanding’s operational ethos, building camaraderie and esprit-de-corps. This enhanced synergy will act as a ‘Force Multiplier’ within armed forces in the contemporary conflict environment.
The Assam Regiment, raised on 15th June 1941, is known for turning defeat into victory. It has won 6 Battle Honours in the 2nd World War, has turned tides in Burma Campaign and 1971 Indo-Pak Wars. The regiment draws troops from North-Eastern states and has several accolades to its honor. The 106 Squadron of Indian Air Force was raised on 11th December 1959. It currently operates the air dominance fighter Sukhoi 30 MkI and is the most decorated squadron of the IAF. The squadron also has been awarded the prestigious President’s Standard.