With the emergence of futuristic Unmanned Combat Drone HAL/CATS Loyal Wingman, part of Combat Air Teaming System program that will fly alongside the Indian Air Force fighter aircraft in future – a whole lot of new indigenous weapons and missile for a variety of aircraft type was unveiled by DRDO.
Among the many new weapon systems displayed at Aero India 2021, DRDO’s new Next-Gen Close Combat Missile – NG-CCM is a one such program that will eventually go a long way standardizing the diverse fleet of close combat missile operated by Indian Air Force for its various type of fighter jets. The new missile in its appearance looks heavily inspired from British MBDA ASRAAM missile procured for IAF’s Jaguar fleet.
DRDO is progressing well towards many indigenous missiles for the armed forces and has successfully demonstrated the maiden test firing of many surface-to-air, air-to-air and air-to ground configuration missiles in past months, infusing a strong push to indigenous weapons in armed forces.
The efforts are on to develop an advanced imaging, heat and infrared-seeking short-range missile for upcoming aircraft being designed and developed within the country i.e Tejas MK-1A – deal for which was signed during the show, Tejas Mk-2 and AMCA of Indian Air Force and Twin-Engine Deck Based Fighter or TEDBF for Navy to name them.
As of now DRDO is yet to discuss the final specification of missiles with its users, it is most likely the missile will have effective range of 70-80 km with capabilities such as Lock-on-after-launch and Lock-on-before-launch with two-way encrypted data-link for secure and jam-proof communication.
While Astra and upcoming Astra Mk-2 will give IAF’s fighter aircraft a long-range capability for BVR missions, NG-CCM will prove to be a perfect replacement for controversial Russian Vympel R-73 missiles currently armed with Su-30MKI and MiG-29 aircraft for close combat missions.
With the successful integration of Astra with Sukhoi-30MKI aircraft, IAF may consider standardizing an home-grown weapon system across its diverse fleet which would introduce various levels of economy as well as commonality and interoperability.