The Indian Air Force (IAF) is scouting the global arms market for stand-off missiles for its modern fighter jets to shore up their capability to shoot down enemy aircraft beyond visual range, an officer said Monday.
The IAF has issued a request for information (RFI) to global manufacturers of stand-off missiles fitted with light warheads that are capable of hitting enemy planes without engaging them in close dogfights, the officer said here.
"Such missiles become very potent when linked with airborne early warning and control systems (AWACS) that provide inputs on enemy missiles and aircraft beyond visual range. We do possess AWACS and we can make best use of these missiles," the officer added.
The IAF, in its specifications for the missiles, has sought a high-accuracy, precision strike weapon to avoid collateral damage. With a guidance system for both its midcourse and terminal stages after being launched, the missile will be a day-and-night weapon with all-weather operational capability.
Stand-off missiles, which are fired from beyond visual range, allow the fighter jets to remain out of the offensive range of the enemy aircraft.
A ground-based training simulator along with multi-media training packages, dummy training missiles, captive training missile pods and storage-cum-maintenance infrastructure also form part of the system the IAF is searching for.
The IAF's MiG-29 and Sukhoi SU-30 combat jets already operate Russian-origin R-27 medium-to-long-range missiles and the R-77 medium range missiles. The Defence Research and Development Organisation is also developing an air-to-air missile, Astra, with a 100-km range.
The IAF is looking to procure long-range air-to-air missiles at a time when it is increasing the number of Sukhoi aircraft in its fleet, apart from upgrading the MiG-29s.