India successfully tests Rudram-II air-to-surface missile from Su-30 MKI fighter jet

India successfully tests Rudram-II air-to-surface missile from Su-30 MKI fighter jet

On May 29, 2024, India achieved an important step in the evolution of its defense capabilities with the successful test of the Rudram-II missile, launched from a Su-30MKI fighter jet off the coast of Odisha. This air-to-ground missile, designed for a range of anti-radiation missions, represents a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Rudram-I. The test validated the missile’s propulsion system and control & guiding algorithm.

As a reminder, the release flight trial was conducted in 2022 from the Sukhoi Su-30MKI. The first anti-radiation test of the Rudram-II was reported in July 2023. It has a range of 300 km and includes an additional Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker. The missile can be launched from the Su-30MKI and Mirage 2000.

The Rudram-II is a supersonic missile with an extended range of 300 km, surpassing that of the Rudram-I. It incorporates an Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker that complements existing guidance systems, thus enhancing its accuracy and ability to engage protected or camouflaged targets. The missile is also equipped with lock-on before and after launch systems, allowing remarkable operational flexibility in target selection. Its ability to detect signals from enemy radars and radio frequencies over 100 km away reinforces its strategic role in neutralizing adversary defenses.

Compared to the Rudram-I, the Rudram-II features several notable technical improvements. Besides its extended range, the new model offers better maneuverability thanks to a dual-pulsed solid propulsion engine, which allows it to adjust its speed and altitude to optimize the attack trajectory. The integration of infrared search technology adds an extra layer of precision, enabling the missile to operate effectively even in conditions where targets are not visible by traditional means.

The development of the Rudram-II is part of a broader effort by India to reduce its dependence on foreign defense technologies. Designed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in collaboration with Indian companies such as Bharat Dynamics and Adani Defence and Aerospace, this missile aims to enhance the arsenal of the Indian Air Force with advanced anti-radiation capabilities. This development is a direct response to the challenges posed by the sophisticated defense systems of regional adversaries, particularly in the context of tensions at the borders with China and Pakistan.

Development of the missile began in April 2012 at the Defence Research and Development Laboratory. The project received official approval in December 2012 with a designated budget of ₹317.2 crore (equivalent to ₹598 crore or US$72 million in 2023), with an anticipated completion by 2017. Feasibility studies conducted between 2012 and 2013 aimed to create a fully indigenous tactical anti-radiation missile for the Indian Air Force (IAF) that would match or surpass the capabilities of the AGM-88E AARGM, MAR-1, Kh-31P, and be more effective than the Martel or Kh-25MP.

By 2014, the development had garnered significant interest from the IAF. Throughout that year, progress was made in missile design and hardware development, with the first successful flight trial scheduled to occur before the end of 2017. Initially, the IAF expressed concerns over the heavier weight and shorter range of the new missiles compared to their Western counterparts, attributed to the bulky Russian-made radio frequency (RF) seekers used. Concurrently, the IAF was negotiating with the United States for the acquisition of 1,500 AGM-88E missiles, which were planned to be inducted over the following five years. The technologies developed by the DRDO for this Next Generation Anti-Radiation Missile (NGARM) include a wide-band passive seeker, millimetric wave active seeker, radomes for the seekers, and a dual-pulsed propulsion system—innovations largely derived from the experiences gained during the development of the Astra and Barak 8 missiles.

By enhancing its range of anti-radiation missiles, India not only aims to improve its defensive posture but also to assert its autonomy and expertise in high-tech missile technology. The Rudram-II, with its extended capabilities and cutting-edge technology, is set to become a key element of India’s defense strategy, offering precise and stealthy strike capabilities against strategic enemy targets.

The successful test of the Rudram-II represents significant progress in India’s ambitions to position itself as an autonomous and innovative defense power. With its technical enhancements and successful integration into the arsenal of the Indian Air Force, the Rudram-II is ready to play a crucial role in India’s national security, significantly enhancing its ability to conduct operations to suppress enemy defenses.

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