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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is taking a significant step towards self-reliance in critical defense equipment. Partnering with the indigenous defense production industry under the Make-II procedure of the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, the IAF is set to design and develop a “Common Air-to-Ground Launcher” for its Su-30 MKI fighter jets. This project, approved on March 18th, 2024.

Imagine a versatile equipment that can transform the Su-30 MKI’s offensive capabilities. The Common Launcher acts as a universal carrier, enabling the aircraft to carry a wider range of weapons and pods based on mission requirements. Currently, the Su-30 MKI relies on various launchers/adapters supplied by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), each specific to a particular weapon type.

These launchers come with limitations:

  • Weight restrictions: Each launcher has a limited weight capacity, restricting the types of weapons it can carry.
  • Mission dependency: Frequent changes in launchers are needed depending on the mission, leading to delays in aircraft availability.

Two launcher versions are planned – one for air-to-ground (A-G) stores and another for air-to-air (A-A) missiles. This versatility eliminates the need for multiple launchers, simplifying operations. The A-G launcher will be compatible with a wide range of air-to-ground missiles and bombs, from 50 kgs to 1500 kgs, significantly expanding the IAF’s offensive capabilities.

The ability to mount the launcher on various hardpoints (Station No. 1 to 10) on the Su-30 MKI provides greater flexibility in weapon configuration. The project emphasizes keeping the launcher’s weight under 180 kgs, ensuring minimal impact on the aircraft’s overall weight and performance.

The “Common Launcher” project is a welcome development for the IAF’s modernization efforts. Success in this project will pave the way for further collaboration between the IAF and domestic defense companies, solidifying India’s position as a self-reliant military power.

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