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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up for a major boost in its short-range combat capabilities with the planned acquisition of additional Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles (ASRAAMs). This domestically manufactured weapon system marks a significant step towards self-reliance in military technology and opens doors for future exports.

The ASRAAM (Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile) is a highly manoeuvrable, within-visual-range missile designed for dogfighting. It serves as the IAF’s go-to weapon for close-quarters aerial combat, ensuring the safety of pilots and the effectiveness of their missions.

Initially, the IAF relied on 384 ASRAAMs procured from MBDA UK to replace the ageing Matra Magic R550 missiles, especially on SEPECAT Jaguar strike aircraft. However, this version contained US-built components, subject to the stringent International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) of the US.

The ASRAAM Block 6 boasts upgraded sub-systems, built-in cooling, and a new British-built seeker with high pixel density. This translates to improved tracking, faster aiming, and enhanced agility against evasive targets, making it a formidable weapon in within-visual-range combat.

Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a leading Indian defence manufacturer, will undertake production of the ASRAAM Block 6 at its Bhanur Unit. This not only bolsters India’s defence manufacturing capabilities but also creates valuable job opportunities and strengthens the nation’s economic self-reliance.

The IAF envisions the ASRAAM as the go-to weapon system for short-range air combat across its entire fleet. This includes fighter jets like the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Rafale, and Tejas, ensuring consistent and reliable close-quarters defence capabilities.

With the removal of ITAR restrictions, the ASRAAM Block 6 presents a lucrative export opportunity for India. The combination of advanced technology, local manufacturing, and competitive pricing could make it a compelling option for nations seeking a potent, yet independent, short-range air-to-air missile system.

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