On Diwali eve, the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully tested an indigenous smart weapon that can target enemy airfield assets such as radars, bunkers, taxiways and runways, at a firing range in Rajasthan, officials familiar with the development said on Wednesday.

This was the second successful test firing of the smart anti-airfield weapon (SAAW) from the Jaguar fighter plane in a week -- it was earlier fired on October 28. The weapon has a range of 100 km.

The November 3 test is significant as it involved the imaging infrared seeker technology that exponentially enhances the terminal accuracy of the weapon, said one of the officials cited above. The weapons earlier tested -- SAAW has been test fired around 10 times -- were equipped with GPS-based navigation and terminal guidance systems.

“The two different configurations based on satellite navigation and electro optical (EO) sensors have been successfully tested. EO seeker-based flight test of this class of bomb was conducted for the first time in the country. EO configuration of the system is equipped with imaging infrared seeker technology that enhancing the precision strike capability of the weapon,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

In both tests, the newly adapted launcher ensured smooth release of the weapon and intended targets were hit with high accuracy, it added.

“SAAW is an important tactical weapon whose equivalent glide bombs have thus far been imported. Once inducted, SAAW will fill a critical indigenous capability gap,” said Air Marshal Anil Chopra (Retd), director general, Centre for Air Power Studies.

The November 3 test came a week after India carried out the latest test of the 5,000 km range Agni-V missile from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast, a significant step towards boosting the nuclear deterrence against China.

In January 2021, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced that a Hawk-i aircraft successfully fired SAAW for the first time off the coast of Odisha. It was seen as a significant boost to an upgrade program for the Hawk advanced jet trainer operated by IAF and navy.

The Hawk-i project (or upgraded Hawk) seeks to equip the trainer jet with combat capabilities through an internally-funded HAL programme. HAL is in talks with IAF and navy for the weaponization of their Hawks.

SAAW has been designed and developed by DRDO’s Research Centre Imarat with support from IAF.

Chopra said in recent months, there has been a significant forward movement in the defence indigenisation sector, with the defence ministry clearing a raft of projects. In a needed self-reliance push, India has signed contracts and cleared projects worth almost ₹62,000 crore in less than two months to boost military capability with locally produced weapons and systems including transport planes, tanks, helicopters, airborne early warning systems and counter-drone weapons.