French PGM to bolster indigenous fighter’s ground attack capability
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is reported to have ordered an unspecified number of HAMMER ground attack precision guided munitions (PGM) for integration with the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas.
The order has been placed with the French manufacturer Sagem under the Emergency Procurement route. This stand-off weapon will add teeth to the LCA Tejas and give it greater capability for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) and destroying reinforced or moving targets with precision. It is reported to have a strike range of up to 70 km.
The HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) has already been ordered for the IAF’s two Rafale squadrons to supplement the frontline fighter’s ground attack capability alongside the Scalp cruise missile.
This stand-off weapon will add teeth to the LCA Tejas and give it greater capability for Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) and destroying reinforced or moving targets with precision. It is reported to have a strike range of up to 70 km
Two squadrons of the LCA have already been inducted into the IAF, while a fresh order for 83 LCA Mk 1A has been placed with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The IAF’s 45 ‘Flying Daggers’ Squadron is equipped with the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) LCAs while 18 ‘Flying Bullets’ Squadron is equipped with the more lethal Final Operational Clearance (FOC) variant, which also has mid-air refueling and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile capability. The HAMMER will add to the indigenous fighter’s weapons portfolio.
The IAF has been attempting to increase the proportion of PGMs in its armoury vis-à-vis unguided or ‘dumb’ bombs. The Israeli Scalp is another PGM integrated with the IAF Mirage-2000 fighters and its effectiveness was demonstrated during the attack on the terrorist camp at Balakot in Pakistan in February 2019.
The HAMMER consists of a guidance kit and a range extension kit, and can be reprogrammed for target coordinates during flight. These kits can be fitted on 125 kg, 250 kg, 500 kg and 1,000 kg bombs. Their utility has been demonstrated on the Mk-82 category of unguided bombs.
The SBU-38 variant of the HAMMER works on hybrid INS/GPS guidance while the SBU-54 version is also equipped with Infrared guidance.
According to product literature in the public domain, the laser terminal guidance variant can hit moving targets while the Infrared version minimises error.
The combat proven weapon can operate in all-weather conditions by day and night. It has vertical strike capability and can support deep strikes, close air support as well as SEAD and anti-ship combat missions.