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January 24, 2011

Capability Enhancement for Indian Air Force Jaguar Fleet with MBDA ASRAAMs

(IndiaDefense) : MBDA's ASRAAM would provide a significant operational capability enhancement for the Indian Air Force Jaguar fleet in both short and within visual range protection. The weapon system's acquisition ranges are phenomenal and would typically enable a Jaguar pilot to "see", engage and kill the target before it even had the chance to respond. With ASRAAM, the lottery of a close-range dogfight is safely avoided.

Given that the Jaguar will probably be operating at a lower altitude than an in-coming threat, ASRAAM's unmatched speed and 'snap up' capability (the ability of the missile to fire upwards to a very high altitude) is ideally suited to the aircraft’s mission. When combined with a Helmet Mounted Sight (HMS), the aircraft/weapon combination can be used to its full ability.

Because of its sleek, low drag wingless design, proven body lifting techniques and the high speed provided by its 166mm diameter motor, ASRAAM has minimum impact on the desired release envelope. ASRAAM’s high speed also enables rapid and thereby safe separation from the aircraft's 'near field', a major issue when considering risk reduction during the missile integration programme.

Alternative missiles that have fins and wings forward of their center of gravity suffer from a number of disadvantages, one of these is known as 'weather cocking'. This effect occurs when the aircraft is pulling high g manoeuvres during a missile release (typically during an over the shoulder shot with HMS whilst evading a threat). As such a missile travels along the launch rail, its fins etc. have the aerodynamic effect of pulling it away before its last "shoe" has actually cleared the mechanism. You can imagine the damage that this will cause, not only to the launcher and perhaps even to the aircraft, but also to the mission.

With such a missile, the only way to mitigate this danger is to accept a limited launch profile and accept all the subsequent limitations this poses on the operational and self-defence capabilities of the aircraft. With over 50 years of experience in missile design, MBDA was fully aware of the dangers of 'weather cocking' so ASRAAM was developed from day one to permit the widest carriage and release envelope for the aircraft.

ASRAAM has flown on Jaguar with an HMS in the UK at the world renowned test facility at Boscombe Down, in addition MBDA has worked exclusively with the aircraft design authority BAES. The missile is fully operational on both under wing and tip stations on the UK RAF's Eurofighter Typhoon and the Australian Air Force's F/A 18.

MBDA together with its partners ELBIT (Targo Dash V HMS) and Cobham (JOWL -- Jaguar Overwing Missile Launcher) provide a world beating capability for the IAF Jaguar fleet with proven reliable subsystems. With ASRAAM, MBDA will be able to provide the Indian Air Force with a missile that has the unique ability to cover close combat while offering near BVR performance as well as an integration solution featuring the lowest of potential risks.

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