In a series of missile tests being conducted by India’s DRDO amidst the ongoing face-off against China, the organization has now tested an Anti-Radiation Missile named “Rudram” from a Su-30MKI combat aircraft on Friday.
Also known as the NGARM (New Generation Anti-Radiation Missile) or simply DRDO ARM (Anti-Radiation Missile), the missile is intended for Suppression and Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD/DEAD) roles by destroying enemy radars. This functionality is achieved with the missile’s capability to detect and home in on the source of radar signals, thus destroying the ground-based early-warning systems or other anti-aircraft equipment of the enemy.
In the event of an air campaign, initial sorties are always performed by SEAD aircraft, which employ methods of hard kill (by using munitions and physically destroying anti-air infrastructure) and soft kill (by employing electronic warfare methods) to render the enemy air defense sites useless, ensuring air superiority which is vital for future strike missions by friendly aircraft.
In case you’re still wondering how an anti-radiation missile works, here’s an animation to help you with that.
The new tests come at a very crucial point for the Indian Air Force- considering the earlier reports of the Chinese deployment of highly capable radars to spy on vital Indian assets, like the Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha and the Tezpur Airfield in Assam (according to an analysis by India Today). The PLA has also been deploying a network of manned and unmanned early-warning radar systems along the Tibetan border.
Now coming on to the capabilities of the newly-tested Rudram (or NGARM), it was reported that the missile has a “launch speed” of Mach 2, i.e. it can even be launched from the aircraft while it’s flying at very high speeds. This gives an additional ability to the pilot, who can fire the missile while aggressively approaching hostile territory or coming back from it- while performing the SEAD missions.
Purportedly, it has a range of 250 kilometers, which is about 100 kilometers more than what was reported earlier. The missile’s range could depend upon the altitude at which the carrier aircraft is flying.
The missile has both lock-on before launch and lock-on after launch modes.
The NGARM project was started in 2012 and was scheduled for completion in 2017- with a goal to have an indigenous answer to the American AGM-88E AARGM (a similar anti-radiation missile). However, the development took a serious track only when the Indian Air Force picked up interest in the missile, which led to the first captive flight trial in the spring of 2016.
The missile marked its first test firing on 18th January 2018, where it was successfully flight tested for the first time on parameters such as auto-launch sequence, store separation, control guidance, aerodynamics, thermal batteries, airframe and propulsion without a seeker which were all proven successful.
The development of the NGARM, or as it’s now called the “Rudram-1,” was also facilitated by the experience gained by DRDO to develop the Astra and Barak-8 missiles.
The missile’s primary launch platform is the Su-30MKI, which is the backbone of the IAF’s fighter fleet. It is also planned to be integrated onto the Mirage-2000, Jaguar, and the LCA Tejas.
This would be the sixth vital test marked by the Defense Research and Development organization in the past 32 days. The first being the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle, the second being CLGM fired from Arjun tank, BrahMos missile’s new 400-km version being the third, followed by the test of hypersonic nuclear-capable Shaurya cruise missile and the SMART torpedo.
A high-speed expendable aerial target vehicle “ABHYAS” was also tested on 22nd September from Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Balasore.
India has also deployed its BrahMos and Nirbhay cruise missiles along the Indo-China border during the ongoing standoff.