Rafale’s capability to be boosted with HAMMER missiles under emergency order
New Delhi, July 23: The Rafales are set to arrive in India amidst the tensions with China. The Indian Air Force, on the other hand, is planning to boost the capabilities of the aircraft by equipping it with the HAMMER missiles from France.
The order for the missiles with the capability to take out any type of target at the range of around 60 to 70 kilometres is being 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.
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 stand off is on between India and China.
According to the original delivery schedule, the first four Rafales were to reach Ambala by May this year. All the 36 fighter aircraft were scheduled to be delivered by April 2022. The delivery of the first batch got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. India has now sought for the delivery given the heightened tensions with China.
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.
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.
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.