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After successfully testing its land and sea-based long-range missiles last year, India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is now setting its sights on the sky. In the next 12 months, the organization plans to conduct carriage trials and potentially test an air-launched variant (ALCM) of its sub-sonic cruise missile, dramatically boosting India’s long-range strike capabilities.

This ALCM variant, stripped of its booster stage for aerial deployment, will be carried by India’s formidable Su-30MKI fighter jets. With a potent payload of 1 tonne and a range exceeding 600km, it will become India’s longest-range air-launched cruise missile, eclipsing the French-made Scalp ALCM currently equipped on the Rafale fleet.

While sharing most components with its ship and submarine-launched brethren, the ALCM will undergo modifications to its airframe for enhanced stability and a redesigned air-intake system suited for airborne deployment.

The upcoming carriage trials will assess the feasibility of integrating the ALCM with the Su-30MKI, ensuring seamless launch and weapon release procedures. Furthermore, a successful test launch would demonstrate the missile’s accuracy and effectiveness in striking both land and ship-based targets at extended distances.

This endeavour marks a significant leap forward in India’s aerial attack capabilities. The ALCM’s potent combination of range, payload, and versatility empowers the country to deter potential threats more effectively and project strategic power across greater distances. It also underscores DRDO’s ability to develop indigenous weapon systems that match and even surpass globally acclaimed technologies.

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