The Indian Air Force has ordered an unspecified number of French air-to-ground Hammer missiles that will be outfitted on the country’s indigenous LCA Tejas fighter, Asian News International revealed, citing government sources.
The country currently operates two LCA squadrons (18 aircraft), and 73 more upgraded Tejas will be inducted over this decade.
The outlet added that the missile will enable the Tejas to destroy bunkers or hardened shelters from a standoff range of 70 kilometers (43.5 miles).
The missile’s acquisition is particularly significant in the midst of a border standoff between the Indian and the Chinese armies across the Ladakh border, where the terrain is mountainous, providing ample cover for troops.
The munition comes in missile and gliding bomb versions with a weight range of 125, 250, 500, and 1,000 kilograms (275, 551, 1,102, and 2,205 pounds). The weapon’s modular structure allows for the addition of navigational guidance options such as inertial navigation/Global Positioning System, infrared homing, or laser guidance.
France’s Dassault Rafale aircraft can carry six Hammers. The French military, which inducted the munition in 2008, has used it over Afghanistan, Libya, and Mali. Other Rafale customers Qatar and Egypt have also asked to outfit their aircraft with the munition. India also ordered the missiles for its Rafale fleet in July.