- The Astra Mark 2 will have a range of 160 km, and the next version will be able to hit targets up to 300 km away.
- The SAAW can also hit targets from more than 100 km away, and better models of it are also being made.
The Indian Air Force has asked the French company Dassault Aviation to put Indian weapons like the Astra air-to-air missile on the Rafale combat plane. This could be a big win for “Make in India” in the defense industry and also open up the global market for desi weapons.
India, France, Egypt, Qatar, and many other countries use the Rafale. Greece, Croatia, the United Arab Emirates, and Indonesia have also placed orders for these planes. “The IAF has asked Dassault Aviation, the original equipment manufacturer, to integrate Indian-made weapons like the Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) and the Astra air-to-air missile with the Rafale, which has been in service with the IAF since 2020,” defence officials said.
Along with these missiles and bombs made by the DRDO, they said, the IAF plans to add more weapons made in India by private companies, such as long-range glide bombs, to its planes in the near future. Industry sources said that the Indian weapon systems could have a big market once they are added to the Rafale. This is because of how well they work and how much they cost. The Su-30 MKI fighter plane and the Indian-made LCA Tejas already have the Indian weapon systems built in.
India has 36 Rafale fighter planes and has already said that it wants to buy 26 Rafale naval planes for its Navy. The top leaders of the Indian Air Force have been pushing for homegrown answers to their war-fighting needs so that they can be self-sufficient, especially during times of war. During the current standoff with China, the force has also bought a lot of new weapons. Many of these have been put on the path to becoming more “indigenous.” The Astra air-to-air rockets can hit targets up to 100 km away, but this will soon change. The Astra Mark 2 will have a range of 160 km, and the next version will be able to hit targets up to 300 km away.
The SAAW can also hit targets from more than 100 km away, and better models of it are also being made. “Private companies have also made missiles and bombs that can hit targets from far away and can be put on the Rafale,” the government sources said.