NEW DELHI (Agencies): The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning a significant upgrade to its fleet of Sepecat Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft, which were originally introduced in the 1970s. The IAF is the only air force in the world still operating these fighters, and it has revitalized them with a major upgrade that includes new attack and navigation avionics.

The IAF is now looking to integrate New Generation Close Combat missiles into these fighter jets. It has sought proposals from industry players to modify and re-equip two aircraft with these new-generation missiles, which will be integrated with the aircraft’s new Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation-III (DARIN-III) avionics and helmet-mounted display.

The missiles identified for this purpose are the Advance Short Range Air-To-Air Missile (ASRAAM) developed by European firm MBDA. The IAF tender also calls for the inclusion of a Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) to improve the pilot’s situational awareness and targeting capabilities.

The IAF has selected the next-gen close combat missile (NGCCM) to replace the aging Matra R550 Magic on the Jaguar strike aircraft’s over-the-wing pylon. ASRAAM, which weighs 88 kg and has a range of more than 25 km, has an infrared homing system that can track and hone in on a target range inside the line of sight.

ASRAAM is currently in service with the Royal Air Force as its Within Visual Range (WVR) Dominance weapon and has been deployed by the Royal Australian Air Force on its F/A-18 Hornet. The missile has been fully integrated with Eurofighter Typhoon, Tornado, and F/A-18, and is now also being integrated into the F-35 Lightning II.

The project will involve studying the Jaguar’s existing DARIN-III avionics, developing technical specifications, modifying the existing software, airframe, and wing pylons, conducting ground and flight trials, and final certification. This upgrade will enable Jaguars to successfully engage various types of combat aircraft, transport platforms, cruise missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

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