India has yet again successfully tested its Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW), a precision-guided glide bomb specialised at making runways and airfields unsuitable for take-off and landing operations. The latest round of tests of the SAAW were carried out at the Chandan Firing Range near Pokhran in Rajasthan.
A statement from the Ministry of Defence on Sunday said the tests, which were the eighth round of developmental trails, were carried out from August 16 to 18. Various arms of India’s defence establishment like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in the tests and recorded their observations.
“The weapon system was integrated with live warhead and has destroyed the targets with high precision. The telemetry and tracking systems captured all the mission events. This weapon is capable of destroying variety of ground targets using precision navigation. A total of three tests with different release conditions were conducted… and all the mission objectives have been achieved,” read the statement.
SAAW has been designed to be launched from two aircraft – the multirole Sukhoi Su-30 and the ground attack SEPECAT Jaguar. Reports have indicated it may also be integrated for use from the Dassault Rafale omnirole fighter once it is inducted into the IAF.
The SAAW is India’s attempt at building an indigenous weapon for the specialised operation. These precision-guided glide bombs are cheaper than conventional missiles since they do not have the complex propulsion systems that are the norm for cruise missiles.
The SAAW weighs about 120 kg and has a range of around 100 km, according to reports. It has been designed to achieve a high degree of precision, which is usually very difficult to achieve operationally with simple gravity bombs.
The SAAW is designed for deep penetration and is armed with a high-explosive warhead. It is meant to deal debilitating damage to ground infrastructure such as runways, taxi ways, aircraft hangars and bunkers among other things. Depending on the operational requirements, they could also be used against other ground targets to give Indian forces enhanced area-denial capabilities, like taking out bridges or other ground infrastructure.
Anti-airfield weapons are critical in war-like scenarios, since they could help give a debilitating blow to adversarial air forces. The high-explosive warheads are meant to cause maximum damage possible to runways and other infrastructure, in a way that prevents quick repair. If successful, the attack using such bombs would render an airfield useless, grounding all the war planes that are based at that air field.
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