With the Rafales arriving in the country in the middle of a dispute with China, the Indian Air Force is further boosting the capabilities of the combat aircraft by equipping it with the HAMMER missiles from France.
The order for the HAMMER standoff missiles with the capability to take out any types of targets at the range of around 60-70 kms is being processed under the emergency powers for acquisition given to the armed forces by the Narendra Modi government.
“The order for the HAMMER missiles is being processed and the French authorities have agreed to supply them to us at a short notice for our Rafale combat aircraft,” government sources told ANI.
In view of the urgent requirement for these missiles by the Air Force, the French authorities would be delivering the systems to India from the existing stock meant for some other customer, they said. HAMMER (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) is a medium-range air-to-ground weapon designed and manufactured for the French Air Force and Navy initially.
The HAMMERs would give India the capability to take out any bunkers or hardened shelters in any type of terrain including the mountainous locations such as Eastern Ladakh, the sources said. When asked to comment, an IAF spokesperson refused to confirm or deny the developments related to the new acquisition.
Five Rafale would be arriving in India from France on July 29 and their advanced weaponry including the long-range SCALP and Meteor missiles would have reached India before their touchdown.
The first five Rafale fighter aircraft would start arriving in India by July 29 flown by pilots of the 17 Golden Arrows commanding officer.