In a first, Hawk-i aircraft fires smart anti-airfield weapon off Odisha coast
- The SAAW is a precision strike weapon that can be used to target enemy airfield assets such as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks and runways.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Thursday announced that a Hawk-i aircraft successfully fired a Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) for the first time off the coast of Odisha, in what is being seen as a significant boost to an upgrade programme for the Hawk advanced jet trainer operated by the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
The SAAW is a precision strike weapon that can be used to target enemy airfield assets such as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks and runways. Indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Research Centre Imarat, the weapon has a range of 100 km. It has been test-fired from the IAF’s Jaguar fighter planes.
It is the first smart weapon to be fired from an Indian Hawk Mk132 trainer aircraft. The Hawk-i project (or upgraded Hawk) seeks to equip the trainer jet with combat capabilities through an internally-funded HAL programme. HAL is in talks with the IAF and navy for the weaponisation of their Hawks, officials said.
“HAL has been focusing on the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. The company-owned Hawk-i platform is being extensively used for certification of systems and weapons developed indigenously by DRDO and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research labs,” HAL chairman R Madhavan said.
The plane was flown by HAL test pilots Wing Commanders (retd) P Awasthi and M Patel. “The pilots executed the weapon release in a text book manner and all mission objectives were met. The telemetry and tracking systems captured all the mission events confirming the success of the trials,” HAL said in a statement.
Arup Chatterjee, director, engineering and R&D, HAL said the state-owned plane maker was indigenously enhancing the training and combat capability of the Hawk-i aircraft, and it was in talks with the Indian military for integration of various weapons on the Hawk platform.
The IAF inducted the British-origin Hawk Mk132 aircraft in 2008 to simplify the training of its fighter pilots. The planes are crucial for the training of combat pilots as they serve as a bridge between subsonic trainers and supersonic fighters such as Rafales, Sukhoi-30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s and Jaguars. Pilots carry out the final stage of their training on Hawks for one year at Bidar in Karnataka.