An Indian Air Force Mirage-2000 carrying a SPICE-1000 munition

A derivative of the "Popeye" (AGM-142 Have Nap) air-to-surface missile, the "Spice" is a product of Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defence Systems

As news of the Indian Air Force strike on terror targets in Pakistan dominated headlines across the world, speculation had begun on the kind of weapons the Mirage-2000 jets carried.

The speculation has increased as the Indian Air Force hit a target in 'Pakistan proper' at Balakot, far from the Line of Control. While initial reports said the Indian Air Force used laser-guided bombs, some media agencies claim the Mirage-2000 fighters hit the targets from 'standoff' ranges, which meant they needn't have strayed significantly beyond the Line of Control.

Confirmation was provided by officials familiar with the development that the Mirage-2000 fighters had carried and dropped the Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective - simply called SPICE bomb. SPICE is the biggest conventional bomb that Indian Air Force has under its command for use. The SPICE is manufactured by Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. It is a precision guided bomb that can be carried on Mirage-2000 fighter planes of the Indian Air Force.

The Indian Air Force is known to operate the Israeli SPICE bomb kit. SPICE, which stands for Smart, Precise Impact and Cost-Effective, is a guidance and manoeuvring kit manufactured by Israel's Rafael. The SPICE kit adds a sophisticated guidance system—consisting of inertial navigation, satellite guidance and Electro-optical sensors for pinpoint accuracy—and control fins to a conventional unguided bomb. The SPICE turns a conventional 'gravity' bomb into a sophisticated long-range munition.

The SPICE-1000 kit, which is available for 500 kg bombs, has a glide range of nearly 100 km, while the SPICE-2000 (meant for 1,000 kg bombs) has a glide range of around 60 km. Weapons like the SPICE-1000 and the SPICE-2000, which are also difficult to detect by most ground-based radars, given their small sizes, enable an aircraft to hit targets at standoff distances.

The surgical strike that India carried in September 2016 and today is an indication that it too can hit at the terror camps the way the United States does.

So, if and when India decides to carry out an attack on terror camps, the Air Force can carry SPICE. It weighs around 2,000-lb or roughly 1,000-kg. Apart from Mirage-2000, one variant of Sukhoi-30MKI can also carry SPICE and deliver at the enemy's camp.

Besides SPICE, Indian Air Force also has 1,000-lb HSLD or High Speed, Low Drag bombs.

The HSLD can be fitted in several fighter planes including Jaguar and Sukhoi-30MKI versions.

Our Bureau