To maintain its unchallenged dominance in beyond visual range (BVR) combat in the South Asian region, Indian Air Force has embarked upon a major plan to acquire longer range air-to-air missiles.
India's dominance in offensive air superiority operations is being dented by the supply of similar BVR missiles to Pakistan by the US in government-to-government sales.
This sudden move has spurred IAF officials to make quick efforts to purchase 120-km range air-to-air missiles. The acquisition of such missiles, which sport ramjet propulsion, will make IAF the lone air force in Asia to have such an unparalleled capability, top IAF officials said.
The acquisition of these missiles is being undertaken in tandem with moves to induct combat aircraft with active phased array radars.
The new 40 Sukhoi-30 advanced version MKI, whose purchase in a deal worth 2.6 billion dollars has been cleared by the government, and 126 medium range combat aircraft, tenders for which are expected to be floated by this month-end, will be equipped with the new radars, officials said.
These new radars will give IAF, for the first time, the capability to detect targets as far as 300 km away and the means to fire such longer range air-to-air missiles.