EXCLUSIVE: HAL Successfully Integrates & Tests AASM Hammer From Tejas

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has successfully integrated and tested the AASM Hammer air-to-surface munition from the Tejas light combat aircraft. The AASM Hammer is a Precision-Guided Munition developed by French company Safran Electronics & Defense. The Indian Air Force (IAF) ordered the Hammer for HAL Tejas in 2021. The test of Hammer will soon be followed by that of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), around 250 of which were recently ordered by IAF, and the DRDO Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW).

INS/GPS AASM Hammer kit on display at the HAL pavilion during DSA 2022. (Albert L)

HAL had stated to Overt Defense during DSA 2022 at Malaysia, on March 29, that the Hammer was to be tested within a few days. Sources at HAL have now confirmed that the ‘planned activity of AASM Hammer drop was successful’. AASM Hammer enables Tejas to strike hardened targets at distances of over 70km. A single Tejas will be capable of carrying up to five Hammers. IAF Rafales are already equipped with this weapon.

HAL has all but integrated the planned munitions for Tejas. However, certification of each munition is expected to take more time. Both JDAM and SAAW are slated to be tested this year. Meanwhile the DRDO Astra air to air missile is planned to be tested in a few months. HAL officials expressed confidence of meeting all targets.

DRDO Astra during ground tests during integration onto Tejas (DRDO)

The AASM Hammer has three different guidance kits and is compatible with different standard bomb bodies (125, 250, 500 and 1000 kg). The 1000lb JDAM variant which can also hit targets at distances of over 70km as well as the 125kg SAAW, with a range over 90km, will make the Tejas an extremely versatile platform for strike missions. IAF’s Tejas fleet, which will eventually number 123 with an order for 83 Mk1A fighters having being placed in 2021, is also capable of using a variety of shorter range precision guided bombs.

Armament of HAL Tejas LIFT variant, displayed during DSA 2022 (HAL)

Regarding export of Tejas, HAL is currently in talks with Malaysia, while government-to-government talks are ongoing with Philippines and Argentina. Even while offering a vast suite of integrated munitions, HAL is open to integrating any weapon specified by clients. This includes the BrahMos NG, a smaller and lighter version of the BrahMos cruise missile, which is under development. Other components of the aircraft can also be changed depending on user requirements.

Albert L contributed to this report.