The Indian Air Force is planning to equip its Sukhoi fighter jets with the Israeli-made Spice-2000 bombs in a major push to increase fire power. The move follows the IAF's strike deep inside Pakistani territory on February 26 in which Spice-2000 bombs were used to hit Jaish-e-Mohammad training camps in Balakot. Defence experts had said that the use of SPICE bombs helped IAF launch precision strike at the Jaba top complex.
After a few more trials, the Su-30 fleet would be equipped with these bombs which rely on coordinates and satellite pictures of the target to home in and destroy the intended targets
At the moment the SPICE bombs are only fitted on the Mirage 2000 fighter planes. Questions were afoot in the immediate aftermath of the Balakot strike as to why the IAF chose the ageing Mirage-2000 jets when it had at its disposal more modern fighter aircraft such as the Sukhoi 30 MKIs. Defence analysts concluded that the choice of Mirage-2000 jets was underscored by the preferred weapon for the strike.
SPICE stands for 'Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective guidance kit-2000. At the time of India's acquisition of around 200 of these bombs from Israel the defence minister had explained the strategic nature of this guided weapon. "SPICE-2000: IAF has acquired precision guided bombs with increased accuracy and penetration for use against fortified and underground command centres. This weapon has been tested and its capabilities have been validated at an IAF firing range," the ministry said in a press note in 2015.
At the moment, the only aircraft which is capable of delivering the bombs on enemy targets is the Mirage 2000. But now the Air Force is putting them on the Su-30s as well to further enhance their firepower
The latest reports say the bombs will now be used by the Su-30 MKI of the Indian Air Force. News agency ANI said the IAF is holding trials Su-30 MKIs' ability to drop SPICE 2000 bombs on the ground. Once the trials are successfully completed the Russian-made Sukhi fighters will have the bombs as their payload.
"At the moment, the only aircraft which is capable of delivering the bombs on enemy targets is the Mirage 2000. But now the Air Force is putting them on the Su-30s as well to further enhance their firepower," high level sources told the agency. "After a few more trials, the Su-30 fleet would be equipped with these bombs which rely on coordinates and satellite pictures of the target to home in and destroy the intended targets."
Force multiplier effect
The Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30MKI is by far the deadliest fighter aircraft with the Indian Air Forces at the moment. It's estimated that India has nearly 300 of these advanced fighter aircraft, which are manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) under license from Russia's Sukhoi. These fighter planes fly at speeds of Mach 2 and can carry equipment and ammunition such as radars, missiles, bombs and rockets. There have been reports that the IAF is planning to equip its Sukhois with the BrahMos missiles as well.
Mirage-2000, on the other hand, is of older provenance. France's Dassault Aviation built these fighter aircraft in 1978 and the French air force inducted them into active duty in 1984. India has had them since 1985. The Indian Air Force has around 50 Mirage-2000 jets and they had performed a stellar role in vanquishing Pak offensive at Kargil in 1999.
The decision to equip the Sukhoi fleet with the high precision SPICE bombs will give the Indian Air Force the force multiplier effect, defence analysts have said.