India’s Hawk-i test fires smart anti-airfield weapon

Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) successfully test fired a Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from a Hawk Mk.132 jet trainer on January 21 – marking a major milestone for India’s indigenous Hawk-i programme.

The test firing of the SAAW munition took place off the coast of the Indian state of Odisha and marked the first time that a smart weapon had been fired from an Indian-operated Hawk Mk.132 jet trainer. In a press release, the company said that its test pilots “executed the weapon release in a textbook manner and all mission objectives were met.” It added that all of the mission events were captured by telemetry and tracking systems, which confirmed the success of the trials.

Hawk-i [HAL]
Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) successfully completed the first test firing of the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) from a Hawk Mk.132 jet trainer on January 21, 2020. Pictured is the company's upgraded Hawk-i platform, which was rolled out in January 2017. HAL

Shri R Madhavan, chairman and managing director of HAL, said: “The company-owned Hawk-i platform is being extensively used for [the] certification of systems and weapons developed by [Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)] and [Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR)] labs.”

According to HAL, India’s indigenous Hawk-i project seeks to upgrade the training and combat capabilities of the Hawk jet trainer in service with the nation’s armed forces. It intends to transform the platform into an advanced jet trainer to provide enhanced sensor/weapons training for aircrews in peacetime, while allowing it to be used for combat operations during times of conflict. The company adds that it is currently in discussions with the Indian military to integrate a number of weapons onto the Hawk.

Developed by Research Centre Imarat (RCI), the indigenously designed SAAW is classified as a 125kg munition with a range of 100km. It is described by HAL as an advanced air-launched, precision strike stand-off weapon, which can be used to destroy enemy airfields and associated targets, such as radars, bunkers, taxi tracks and runways. The SAAW munition has already completed successful test firing trials from Indian Air Force-operated SEPECAT Jaguar attack aircraft.