India Tests New Rudram-II Air-to-Surface Missile

State-owned Indian defense company Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) tested the new Rudram-II air-to-surface missile from an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30 MK-1 off the Odisha coast on May 29th, according to the Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD).

“The flight test met all the trial objectives, validating the propulsion system and control and guidance algorithms,” the MoD reported about the missile’s performance. The MoD also added that data was tracked by instruments such as radar, electro-optical systems, and telemetry systems stationed at the DRDO Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha, in eastern India.

The Rudram-II was first revealed at the Defexpo 2022 exhibition in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on the western side of India. The missile completed its captive carry (the missile’s ability to not separate from a helicopter or rotorcraft during hours of flight; this helps determine compatibility with aircraft and necessary changes).

A photo reportedly shows Rudram-II during the launch on May 29th. Source: Indian MoD

Rudram-II Specifications

The Rudram-II is the second in the series of supersonic/hypersonic air-to-surface anti-radiation and ground attack missiles after the Rudram I, which was designed in 2012 and adopted in 2022. The  Rudram series is an indigenous design, created by the DRDO with assistance from other defense companies such as the Armament Research and Development Establishment, Defense Electronics Research Laboratory, Research Centre Imarat, and Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory.

The Rudram I is produced by Bharat Electronics Limited and Bharat Dynamics Limited, with assistance from Adani Defense and Aerospace for mass production. All the same companies will produce the Rudram-II.

The Rudram-II anti-radiation missile (ARM) variant will reportedly has a 342 lbs. (155 kg) warhead, with the ground attack variant having a 440 lbs. (200 kg) warhead. Anti-radiation missiles are designed to track and strike enemy radio emission sources, typically radar stations or other communication assets, that emit radiation. The missile will be 18 feet (5.4 meters) long and has a mass of around 1,300 lbs. (600 kg). Due to the internal guidance system, the missile can find its target after launch.

The maximum operational range of the Rudram-II is likely 190–220 miles (300–350 km), and it will have an average speed of Mach 5.5 at any altitude from 1.86-24.8 miles (3–40 km). The missile runs on a dual-pulsed rocket motor that burns rocket fuel.

IAF Su-30MK1, the same type of aircraft used in the May 29th Rudram-II test. Source: U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown.

Launching can be done from most of the IAF fleet, including the Su-30 MK1, Mirage 2000, MiG29UPG, and Tejas Mk1/Mk1a. Plans to fit it on the upcoming Tejas Mk2, AMCA, and Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF) are reportedly underdevelopment.

The new missile will replace the Russian-designed Kh-31, which India ordered in 2019.

Analysis

The development of the Rudram-II will bolster the IAF’s strike capabilities, as it will likely be one of the best-performing in the IAF arsenal once development finishes. Striking targets such as military instillations, radar stations, and airbases along the borders with China and Pakistan could be carried out more efficiently compared to the Rudram-I or Kh-31.

The development of the Rudram series shows how India is taking steps to move away from older Russian equipment in favor of its own designs through the Make in India initiative, which began in 2014. Supply chain issues and weapon delivery delays during the current conflict in Ukraine could serve as another initiative for India to move toward its own designs and expand its defense industry.

India could also use the Rudram-II missile to increase interest in the locally designed and manufactured Tejas Mk1/Mk1a fighter aircraft program. For example, the naval variant of the Tejas pitched to the Philippines could be more desirable, as it gives the Philippines additional strike capability during missions.

India could continue to market the Rudram-II to other nations looking to replace Russian-made equipment, such as Vietnam or Armenia.

Evan Berridge
Evan Berridge
Evan is an analyst specializing in Indo-Pacific affairs and has over 5 years of experience as a freelance writer.

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