IAF gets lowdown on the Royal Air Force’s Libya op

  • Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times, Stevenage, United Kingdom
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  • Updated: Oct 17, 2011 00:53 IST

The Royal Air Force has given Indian Air Force the lowdown on how it blitzed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's air defences and destroyed his armoured forces during the ongoing Operation Ellamy, the UK's contribution to the Libya action.

Top RAF officials have given classified briefings to IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on the use of precision attack weapons such as Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles, manufactured by European defence major MBDA Missile Systems, to strike at the fallen dictator's military machine.

MBDA Missile Systems military adviser Russ Martin confirmed that presentations were made at the Air headquarters in New Delhi, highlighting the role of these missiles in tearing down military infrastructure and supply lines without causing civilian casualties.

The move comes at a time when the IAF has shifted its gaze to arming its fighters with latest multi-role precision strike munitions, visual range dominance weapons and beyond visual range missiles.

Frank Morgan, head of UK Airborne, MBDA, said Brimstone air-to-surface missiles launched from RAF's Tornado GR4 fighters scored direct hits against manoeuvring targets including tanks in Libya.

"A fighter jet can fire a salvo of six missiles to destroy an equal number of tanks or non-armoured targets. The RAF found it to be a highly accurate and low collateral damage weapon," Morgan said at MBDA's Lostock facility outside Manchester.

The presentations made to the IAF dealt with the role of air power in changing the dynamics of conflict in Libya when an operation was underway to enforce a UN-backed no-fly zone in Libya. Storm Shadow missiles were fired from Tornado GR4s to destroy radar stations and anti-aircraft batteries.

"The experience in Libya has shown that capabilities such as deep strike, precision close-air support and air superiority based on the highest level of technology are a must to succeed in a conflict. Our missiles were used extensively," MBDA CEO Antoine Bouvier said at the firm's Stevenage facility outside London.

Brimstone is being sought by both France and the United States. MBDA has also received a request for information from the IAF for arming the Sukhoi-30 with Brimstone and Meteor, a beyond visual range air-to-air missile.

Martin said both Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale, angling for the IAF's $10.2 billion contract to supply 126 fighter jets, were capable of deploying Meteor, a missile whose no escape zone is touted to be three times greater than that of current medium range air-to air missiles.

(The writer is in the UK at the invitation of MBDA Missile Systems)


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