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By Bulbul Singh

25 May 11. To sharpen the accuracy of targeting, the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to buy Laser Designated Pods (LDP) for its fighter aircraft. The Indian defence ministry has floated a global tender for the purchase of the pods along with their integration on IAF aircraft. RFPs have been sent to defence companies in France, Israel, Russia, and the USA.

The requirement is for 164 LPDs along with specific aircraft-type, delivery of the pods will begin within 12 months from the date of signature. The entire program will be completed within 41 months. The final numbers are likely to increase with a repeat order from the selected vendor. The program also includes mandatory provisions for 30% offsets.

The pods would be operable on Su-30MKI, Mirage 2000, Jaguar and MiG-27 fighter aircraft. All integration activities will be performed by the selected vendor at Indian facilities and as such the requirement is that the vendor should have previous integration experience of similar equipment with the aircraft weapon system and mission computer. In addition, the vendor will also be responsible for the certification in India post integration, by the requisite certifying agency in India.

The development and certification Flight Tests on these aircraft will be carried out by IAF pilots. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has the required expertise to provide the data to carry out the integration.

The modification of existing pylons for integration of the LDP will be carried out by the vendor. The breakdown of LDP sub-systems include: 83 adapters and modification kits for the SU-30MKI, 42 for Jaguars, 27 for Mirage 2000 and 12 for upgraded MiG-27.

Requirements include, 24/7 capability of air-to-ground targeting, air-to-air tracking, last spot seeker facility, night navigation capability with FLIR imagery. The LDP weight should not be more than 300 kilograms and have a service life of a minimum of twenty years or 5000 hours of operation.

Vendors will be required to provide their equipment for flight trials abroad at an agreed location and will offer the LDP for in-flight evaluation on an aircraft on which their LDP is already operational.

Meanwhile the DRDO has also fully developed laser guided bombs which have also been tested by the IAF last year to ascertain their accuracy, reliability and performance.

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