India is stocking up missiles in eastern Ladakh as standoff with China hasn’t resolved yet and there are no signs of its dissolution in recent future. New Delhi is also planning for challenges that may emerge in the summer.
A report published in Jane’s Defence Weekly states that India has signed a contract with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems worth $200 million. Under this contract, the defence company will provide an unknown number of SPICE bomb-guidance kits, around 300 Spike-Long Range Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGMs) and the BNET broadband IP software-defined radios.
This equipment will be delivered by early 2021. Indian army has made this deal under the emergency powers provided by the Union defence ministry to buy weapons systems worth up to Rs 300 crore on an urgent basis. The SPICE 2000 air-to-ground missiles have already been integrated into the Mirage 2000 fleet and the Sukhoi-30 fighters of the IAF.
A senior IAF officer said the Spice 2000 bombs have already been successfully used by the army during the Balakot strikes. These will strengthen the IAF by increasing to the inventory of missiles with the army which are capable of hitting targets from a long-range with excellent accuracy. Accuracy is another factor which is very crucial during the ongoing conflict. However, the officer seemed unsatisfied with the number of missiles ordered as they are not sufficient for the approximately 250 Sukhoi-30s and the 50 Mirage 2000s currently in operation by the IAF.
The SPICE 1000 bombs weigh around 500 kg. These bombs can be installed into Jaguars and the indigenous Tejas.
When standoff with China started in Ladakh, the IAF made an order for the French HAMMER air-to-ground precision-guided weapon system for its Rafale fighter jets. Highly Agile and Manoeuvrable Munition Extended Range (HAMMER) includes a guidance kit with a range-extension kit fitted on a standard Mk 82 bomb of 250 kg.
The new missiles ordered will add to the IAF’s arsenal after another massive stocking-up exercise in the recent past.
The central government bought weaponry costing $700 million for the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Russia last year. This included around 300 short-range air-to-air missiles, the R-73, and 400 medium-range air-to-air guided missiles, the RVV-AE, also known as the R-77, and a radar-busting missile called X-31. These missiles are designed to fit into the Russian-made MiG and Sukhoi aircraft.