SOURCE: IDRW NEWS NETWORK
According to media reports, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-Su30MKI jet for the first time test-fired MICA IR a dual waveband imaging infrared seeker version of the framed multi-mission air-to-air missile which is standard on the recently acquired Dassault Rafale and Mirage 2000-5 fleet but for the first time MICA IR has been tested from a Russian origin jet, which has some Post Balakot Air combat operations link as per sources close to idrw.org.
In 2012, IAF had placed orders for 490 Mica infrared and radar-controlled air-to-air missiles for its Mirage-2000-5 fleet and in 2016 it was for the first time test-fired from an upgraded Mirage-2000-5 aircraft marking successful integration into the fleet. 36 Dassault Rafale will also be equipped with the same MICA-IR-RF air-to-air missile which is will be supplemented with superior air dominance Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM).
Vympel R-27T and Vympel R-73 are Medium and short-range infrared homing (heat-seeking) air-to-air missile which has been integrated on the Sukhoi-Su30MKI but both lacked superior range like seen in MICA-IR which also will be seen as a substitute to the Vympel R-27T which are prone to poor performance issues and also have a lower inflight shelf life. While the official range of MICA-IR is still classified it has been advertised as 80km but some experts suggesting it has been capped to 60km for the infrared version but it does create a sense of fear in the rival camp due to its unique stealthy interception capability provided by its silent seeker.
MICA-IR is called by MBDA its Makers as an Enhanced Short Range (SR) multi-mission air-to-air missile system which offers its users a combination of Lock On After Launch mode and excellent acquisition and tracking performance authorize 360° launch envelope with the first shot / first kill capability even in case of a threat in the backward sector. MICA-IR gives its target little but mostly no warning when launched at it and can deadly until the last minute. Thrust vector control (TVC) and Low-smoke High impulse Propulsion system makes it very difficult for the target to escape at its No-Escape Zone.
MICA-IR can use its Autonomous lock-on from the seeker’s IRST scans which means it doesn’t require inputs from Fire Control Radar or IRST Sensor of the aircraft for launch towards the target, which could be one of the reasons why it was selected for the Sukhoi-Su30MKI till the time upgrade Vympel R-27ER ordered from Russia starts coming. India is reportedly also working on its own Astra IR with Enhanced Short Range (SR) performance in lines of MICA-IR which later will be adapted for all IAF fighter jet fleet.
Post Balakot Air combat operations
While No Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missiles was fired by Indian Air Force after Balakot Air Strikes when Pakistani Air Force (PAF) jets tried to attack Indian Army Installation and pinned down a Sukhoi-Su30MKI with a barrage of AIM-120C-5 AMRAAM Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missiles which failed to hit its intended Target but Two Upgraded Mirage-2000-5 which were on Combat Air Patrol at the different sector were able to keep Radar lock on 8 JF-17s which had formed the second line of defense behind F-16 thus preventing their intervention in the sector where Two Mig-21s were seen attacking F-16s.
PAF Chief later in an interview confirmed that IAF Mirage-2000 armed with MICA Air-to-Air missile prevented JF-17s from entering air battle which was taking place near LOC. According to IAF, All 8 JF-17s stayed out of the MICA Range in fear of being shot down on the Indian side of LOC which also thus prevented Second Mig-21 Piloted by Squadron Leader Vyas from being shot down.
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