India ditches Russian missile and chooses MBDA MICA as the medium-range missile

BHUBANESWAR (GDC) — Amid a protracted stand-off along the LAC, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has accomplished a secret mission by conducting several rounds of MICA air-to-air missiles that have recently been acquired from France off Odisha coast learned GDC citing the Indian Express.

Rafale and Su-30MKI in a flying formation.

Defence sources said anti-air multi-target MICA missile fired from Sukhoi-30 MKI for the first time successfully destroyed expendable aerial targets (EATs), demonstrating its capabilities.

Ahead of the planned integration with multi-role combat aircraft Rafale, the IAF test fired two rounds of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) MICA air-to-air missile on Monday and Tuesday.  

Media personnel take images of missiles of an Indian Su-30MKI fighter aircraft, which was being flown by Indian pilots over Kashmir last year in February, put on display at Pakistan Air Force headquarter in Islamabad on February 24, 2020, to commemorate Pakistan Air Forces ‘Operation Swift Retort’ against the Indian Air Force. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

The tests are the clear indication that the Indian Air Force has learnt a lesson in Kashmir Skirmish and decided not to use Russian-made R-77 missiles although the IAF possesses a stockpile of R-77/R-73 missiles.

 

The fighter aircraft took off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal and fired the missile, successfully neutralising the aerial target drone mimicking enemy aircraft at low altitude.  “All mission parameters have been met as the target was destroyed validating the missile’s launch envelope. The missile will equip both Sukhoi and Rafale fighter jets,” according to India Express.

Indian Air Force Rafale Jet.

Acquired from France, MICA is an all weather missile system available in both short and medium ranges. The fire-and-forget missile can be used both by air platforms as well as ground units and ships.

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The 3.1 metre long missile having a diameter of 0.16 m weighs around 112 kg. It can neutralise targets within a range of 500 metre to 60 km. Of its two variants guided by radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR), MICA-RF has an active radar homing seeker and MICA-IR has an imaging infra-red homing seeker. Both seekers are designed to filter out counter-measures.

The mission was conducted by the IAF while the DRDO provided the logistic support. After the successful trial of Dhruvastra last month, the twin missions during the Covid-19 pandemic proved the readiness of the test range.            

“The IAF is in the process of upgrading its squadrons. It is also in process of procuring Meteor missile from the European weapon maker MBDA. Rafale will be equipped with MICA and Meteor,” the official added.

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