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Rafale fighters set to get meaner this month with HAMMERS

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New Delhi, Nov 06: The Rafale fighters that have landed in India will be equipped with the air to surface HAMMER all-weather air to ground precision-guided munitions. France has agreed to equip these smart weapons apart form the air to air MICA, METEOR missiles and air to ground SCALP standoff weapon.

Rafale fighters set to get meaner this month with HAMMERS

The order for the missiles with the capability to take out any type of target at the range of around 60 to 70 kilometres was processed under the emergency powers of acquisition given to the armed forces by the Narendra Modi government.

The order for the HAMMER is being processed and the French authorities have agreed to supply the same to India under short notice, reports have said. The same is to be delivered to India by the end of this month.

What equipping the Rafales with HAMMERs meanWhat equipping the Rafales with HAMMERs mean

HAMMER or the Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range is a medium-range air to ground weapons designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and navy. This would give India the capability to take out any bunkers or hardened shelters in any kind of terrain including mountainous locations like Eastern Ladakh, where a tense standoff is on between India and China.

Range and Deployment:

The 20 to 70-kilometre range HAMMERS are designed to destroy bunkers, hardened shelters and other targets in all terrains. This includes the mountainous ones in easter Ladakh. These will be procured under the emergency financial powers that have been granted to the armed forces during the stand off with China.

The HAMMERs are similar to the Israel origin Spice precision guided bombs which were used by the Indian Mirage-2000 fighters during the Balakot airstrikes in February last year.

A Rafale can carry up to six HAMMERs to hit as many target simultaneously. When the Rafales arrive in India, they will be almost combat deployable. It would be capable of firing over 300 kilometre range Scalp air to ground cruise missiles and other weapons. The integration of the Meteor air to air missiles would take some time.

The Indian Air Force's capability has been ramped up immensely, with the induction of the C-17 Globemaster Super Hercules and the CH-47 Chinook. The Indian Army's strike formations are now spearheaded by the T-90 tanks.

Airlifting the T-90s was an important aspect for the IAF. The 46 tonne tanks is very crucial to the Indian Army as it faces the Chinese deployments, which also include a mix of both heavy and light tanks.

Airlifting the T-90 tank was possible only due to C-17, which has a payload capacity of 77 tonnes. The C-17 have come in handy because the Il-76 could airlift only 45 tonnes, while the weight of the T-90 is 46 tonnes. The C-17s have been in service since 2013 and there are 11 of them.

The Indian Army had three regiments of the older T-72 tanks, which weigh around 40 tonnes. Earlier, the IL-76 would airlift the T-72s and this is an exercise that has been going on since the 1990s.

Three more Rafale jets arrive in India after flying non-stop from FranceThree more Rafale jets arrive in India after flying non-stop from France

Since tank transporters can only be used on some road stretches within Ladakh, it was not practical to negotiate the high mountain passes and narrow stretches that lie on the road link from the mainland to Ladakh.

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    The IAF's capability was also enhanced with the procurement of 15 Chinooks. This has in fact enhanced the round the clock and all weather capability, especially in the mountains, where manoeuvrability is a major issue.

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