The Indian Air Force is exploring the possibility of slinging six Brimstone and a pair of ASRAAMs on its over 120 Hawk jet trainers.
Senior MBDA officials tell Livefist that the IAF is engaged in detailed discussions on a potential program that the company says will be a low-cost/time that involves modifications that can be conducted on site with kits in a ‘matter of days’.
Arming India’s Hawks has been a notion tossed about by the IAF for years now, but so far the proposition has fundamentally meant more airframes. The current pitch seeks to take into account a combination of factors: chronic budgetary pressures that won’t go away, the need for a simplified boost in tactical combat capabilities and availability, and finally the long felt need to stretch the Hawk fleet beyond its baseline training duties to potential war assets if and when hostilities break out.
The BAE-HAL Advanced Hawk, an improved and combat ready Hawk, revealed first here on Livefist, is on offer separately to the IAF. MBDA, owned 37.5% by BAE Systems, is understood to be pursuing specific IAF interest in the Brimstone for the first time — the IAF has already begun accepting deliveries of the ASRAAM for its Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft fleet.
“By no means is the Hawk a fighter, but when you need to throw all of your assets up in the air, this is a great fit,” an MBDA official said.
The IAF’s perceived interest in the Brimstone is both new and significant, given that it hasn’t specifically cast its gaze on the weapon system on its other airframing programs. MBDA is looking at the Brimstone as a possible fit on the IAF Jaguar and Indian Navy’s future Sea Guardian drones.
At MBDA’s new facility in Bolton, UK, Livefist has the opportunity to interact with company officers leading the Brimstone’s international business.
“We have had quite a few joint discussions between HAL, the IAF, BAE Systems and us. The ASRAAM fit is easier. The launchers that the IAF uses are compatible with the ASRAAM. There is some integration work required, but it’s simpler. The IAF would like to take advantage of its in service ASRAAM on other assets. The Brimstone is designed to deploy off fast jets. That’s why the IAF wants it,” said a senior MBDA official.
Teams from MBDA are understood to be engaged with the IAF on a ‘weekly/monthly’ basis.
More details on MBDA’s pitch in these slides, including the IAF’s mixed fighter force ops (MFFO) imperative.