Why did the IAF integrate MICA missiles with Su-30MKI?

Source:-Why did the IAF integrate MICA missiles with Su-30MKI?

According to media reports, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi-Su30MKI jet for the first time test-fired MICA IR a dual waveband imaging infrared seeker version of the framed multi-mission air-to-air missile which is standard on the recently acquired Dassault Rafale and Mirage 2000-5 fleet but for the first time MICA IR has been tested from a Russian origin jet, which has some Post Balakot Air combat operations link as per sources close to idrw.org.

In 2012, IAF had placed orders for 490 Mica infrared and radar-controlled air-to-air missiles for its Mirage-2000-5 fleet and in 2016 it was for the first time test-fired from an upgraded Mirage-2000-5 aircraft marking successful integration into the fleet. 36 Dassault Rafale will also be equipped with the same MICA-IR-RF air-to-air missile which is will be supplemented with superior air dominance Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM).

Clearly IAF is looking for a replacement for its aging R-73 missiles which although very capable but are fairly old now. With the new developments in countermeasure technology such as advanced flares which replicate the engine’s thermal signature, the IR (Infrared) sensor of the R-73 would have a hard time filtering them.

Instead IAF went on a shopping list to have a missile with an IIR (Imaging Infrared) sensor.

An IIR sensor is a generation ahead of the IR sensor as it projects the thermal image of the enemy aircraft which the missile chases instead of just chasing a heat source in case of an IR sensor in the R-73 missile. Thus the IIR sensors are more resistant to countermeasures & are more likely to hit the target.

This is the prime reason of moving towards Imaging infrared guided missile for Su-30MKI & thus IAF had two options.

Last year (2019) the IAF was planning to integrate the AIM-132 ASRAAM in the Su-30MKI & make it a standardised dogfighting missile across multiple aircraft types including the Tejas. It helps that the Jaguar is already using the ASRAAM since 2014. But the ASRAAM cannot be integrated in the Rafale because Rafale already comes equipped with MICA-IR.

Instead in a turn of move, IAF decided to make the MICA-IR the weapon of choice for dogfighting from SU-30MKI (& possibly LCA Tejas in near future) to maintain commonality across platforms to take advantage of economies of scale & simplify logistical & training requirements. The Mirage 2000 & the Rafale already uses MICA-IR/RF & it would make total sense to integrate it on Su-30MKI & Tejas.

Also, talking about capabilities the ASRAAM as well as the MICA-IR are supremely capable missile but what favours the MICA-IR is that it has a far greater range than the ASRAAM. The MICA-IR can hit targets at 80 km max range instead of 30 km for the ASRAAM. That means that our Su-30MKIs can fire before being fired upon when using dogfighting missiles.

Concluding the reasons of Su-30MKI firing the MICA:

MICA-IR is a better missile with extremely manoeuvrability & higher speed (Mach 4 vs Mach 2.5 for R-73). It is a generation ahead of the R-73 which is in service since 1984.

Establishing a common & standardised dogfighting missile across multiple platforms.





Source:- Subhadeep Paul Quora

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