IAF To Flight-Test ‘In-House’ Stand-Off Glide Weapon This Month
In March this year, I’d written about this never before set of three weapons shortly after they were first unveiled at the Aero India show in Bengaluru. The brainchild of the IAF’s Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, Air Marshal S.B. Deo, these weapons made their second appearance today at the IAF chief’s Air Force Day reception.
The weapons now have names. The Waghnakh, an unpowered stand-off glide weapon, which has been through carriage (see arrow pointing to photo inset) and compatibility trials on a Su-30MKI will be test-dropped from the aircraft this month, Air Marshal Deo told Livefist today. Deo has developed the weapons in a private workshop that he receives support for from the air force. The weapons have so far remained concepts given that they have no official sanction and aren’t routed through the established DRDO-DPSU route to service entry. However, Air Marshal Deo and DRDO chief Selvin Christopher today not only shared a warm hug, but also agreed to “work together” — this could mean the DRDO getting involved and helping Air Marshal Deo get the weapons going as inductable platforms.
The second weapon is the Varunastra long-range anti-shipping missile (not to be confused with the identically named heavy weight torpedo under development by the DRDO), a weapon powered by a mini-engine. Specifications below:
And finally, the Vel light weight cruise missile, again for deployment from a Su-30MKI. All three weapons are built with low RCS construction and will sport low observable paint, says Air Marshal Deo.
The three weapons received a lot of high-profile interest, with the Defence Secretary receiving an extended briefing on the family of weapons. Their unusual development path, fully away from the traditional route has evoked justifiable interest. The question is — will these weapons ever see operational service?