In a big boost to the indigenous Hawk-i program, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) successfully test fired a Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from the Hawk-i aircraft off the coast of Odisha. The indigenous stand-off weapon developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), DRDO is the first smart weapon fired from an Indian Hawk-Mk132. The aircraft flown by HAL test pilots Wg Cdr (Retd) P Awasthi and Wg Cdr (Retd) M Patel executed the weapon release in a text book manner and all mission objectives were met. The telemetry and tracking systems captured all the mission events confirming the success of the trials.
“HAL has been focusing on the Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign. The Company owned Hawk-i platform is being extensively used for certification of systems and weapons developed indigenously by DRDO and CSIR labs” said Mr. R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL.
“HAL is indigenously enhancing the training and combat capability of Hawk-i. HAL is in discussions with Indian Armed Forces for integration of various weapons on Hawk platform.” said Mr. Arup Chatterjee, Director, Engineering and R&D, HAL.
The BAE Systems Hawk is a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft. It was first flown at Dunsfold, Surrey, in 1974 as the Hawker Siddeley Hawk, and subsequently produced by its successor companies, British Aerospace and BAE Systems. It has been used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. Operators of the Hawk include the Royal Air Force (notably the Red Arrows display team) and a considerable number of foreign military operators. The Hawk is still in production in the UK and under licence in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), with over 900 Hawks sold to 18 operators around the world.
In May 2015, Indian aerospace manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) revealed that it was examining the prospects of performing its own Hawk upgrades, including armed light attack variants. The Hawk-i is HAL’s internally funded program offering the Indian Armed Forces an upgrade and combat capability for the Hawk, transforming it into an Advanced Jet Trainer providing training on sensors and weapons in peacetime into a potent combat platform during conflict. HAL has stated that it also aims to export combat Hawks to other countries in partnership with BAE. Missile developer and manufacturer MBDA may provide their ASRAAM and Brimstone missiles to arm the new attack type.
The DRDO Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) is an aircraft launched, advanced, precision strike weapon of 125 Kg category used to attack and destroy enemy airfield assets such as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks, runways within a range of 100 kms. The SAAW is being developed by the Research Centre Imarat (RCI), and other DRDO laboratories in collaboration with the Indian Air Force (IAF). It is a lightweight high precision guided bomb designed to destroy ground targets, such as runways, bunkers, aircraft hangars and other reinforced structures. Weighing 120 kg (260 lb) it has deep penetration capabilities, carries a high explosive warhead and has a standoff range of 100 kilometres (62 mi).
In September 2013, the SAAW project was sanctioned by the Indian Government for ₹56.58 crore (US$7.9 million). The project finds mention in a written note submitted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to the Standing Committee on Defence, in a report on ‘Demands for Grants’ to be provided in 2014–15 to the Ordnance Factories Board and the DRDO. It is also listed in the list of current programmes of the Mission and Combat System R&D Center (MCSRDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The weapon was finally tested at the end of the first week of May 2016 by the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) of the IAF from a Jaguar DARIN II aircraft in Bengaluru, and the test was successful.