Smart Hero Bomb

A smart bomb which is effective against ground targets like railway yards/bridges, major installations, bunkers, runways and hardened targets is on its way to strengthen the hands of the Indian armed forces. Yes, Israel has offered smart bomb to India. This lethal aerial loitering bomb is called Hero-400EC, writes REKHA JHA

Since India is looking for smart and precision guided munitions for its armed forces to repulse any enemy attack or terrorist infiltration, Israel has come up with a new pattern of solutions and is currently offering latest generation of smart bombs which can independently lock onto targets.
Just weeks before, the defence ministry has cleared a proposal to buy, indeed, repeat order, of smart bombs from Russia which is quite heavier in nature but more effective against static targets, yet Israeli smart bomb technology could be more beneficial as they are ready to make in India.
Sensing the market for smart bombs and independent warhead technologies in India, Israel is keen to sell its Hero-400EC bombs which can act as a robotic bomb with artificial intelligence.
Since artificial intelligence is playing a key role in armed conflict, during surgical strikes just two years ago India had to rely on a wide range of technology to decimate Pakistani targets.
For the last 10 years, Israel has been showing its capabilities and planning to showcase its latest aerial bomb which is considered to be smart bomb of modern century.
Israel is fully aware that India is looking for such technology for the last two years ever since surgical strike took place after Uri attack where India had to employ a series of technical means to target a terrorist launch pad.
Although the Israelis have developed seven different variants, India is keen on a particular version of aerial bomb.
This lethal aerial loitering bomb is called Hero-400EC which is newly reinvented with enlarged, extendedrange, extremely precise loitering munition system.
The system’s unique cruciform aerodynamic design delivers highaccuracy and reduces collateral damage. Its electric motor enables it to loiter silently above a target, ready to instantly respond to pop-up threats.
After testing it in desert condition in just south of Israel, Israel has been planning to offer this technology to India as there is a need for long-range platform that could remain in the air for extended periods of time, provide a substantial warhead effective against a wide variety of targets, and also deliver missile-level pinpoint strike capabilities.
According to Israeli defence ministry officials, the Hero-400EC is a revolutionary loitering munition system using man-inthe-loop technology and advanced ElectroOptical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) payloads that can locate, track and strike static or moving targets with pinpoint accuracy and surprise.
The system features a low noise and thermal signature modular multi-tube launcher that is adaptable to a wide range of platforms, thereby offering air, land, and sea capabilities.
The abort capability allows automatic reentry into the loitering mode, re-engagement of the enemy, or return to the recovery area using a parachute. This makes Hero-400EC a cost-effective weapon of choice on today’s asymmetric battlefield.
The Hero-400EC has a maximum take-off weight of 40 kg and a warhead weight of 10 kg, with an endurance of up to 2 hours. The Hero family comprises seven systems, designed for assorted tasks at various ranges.
Hero systems enable high-speed transit flight and low-speed loitering, depending on the tactical or strategic needs of the mission– engaging moving targets, light-duty vehicles, tanks, and other strategic objectives.
The Hero systems can be provided in the ISR configuration, enabling the use of the platform as a means for gathering intelligence – or as a missile, enabling precision attacks on targets, using warheads of various types and weights.
India has been using various types of Israeli smart bombs and PGMs for the last several years. But it is now looking for greater accuracy and ISR based weapons profile.
Although India has been developing smart bomb and PGM technologies for years, none of them is very credible at the moment and only a handful of them have shown good promise.
Just four months ago, the DRDO has successfully tested the use of guided bombs. Called Smart Anti Airfield Weapon (SAAW), the light weight bombs were flight tested from the Indian Air Force aircraft in the ranges of the Interim Test Range.
During the trials, the guided bombs which were released from the aircraft and guided through precision navigation system, reached the targets at more than 70 km range, with high accuracies, according to DRDO scientists.
A total of three tests with different release conditions and ranges were conducted and all were successful. But in reality it might take years before it could enter into services.
There are two variants of the guided bombs–Garuthmaa (winged version with range upto 100 km) and the Garudaa (nonwinged with range of 30 kmto scalable upto 100 km). The latter also has on board navigation and guidance systems.
However, just for stop gap arrangement India is now going for Russian made PGMs and smart bombs.
Since India is also using Russian PGMs for decades, the MoD has decided to go for a brief further procurement. Most Russian PGMs have bigger circular margins which mean it relies on overall impact and thus greater accuracy could still be a problem.
According to an official document, these bombs are effective against ground targets like railway yards/bridges, major installations, bunkers, runways and hardened targets.
The bomb can be carried on various inservice aircraft like the Jaguar, MiG and other advanced combat aircraft of the IAF.
Such bombs play a very important role in strike missions where aircraft are tasked to destroy ground installations and enemy runways.
At present, the IAF is fully dependent on imports of the lethal bombs from Israel, France, Russia and the United States for its fighters.
But the country is also striving to attain self-sufficiency on the munitions front. Last year, the state-owned DRDO had successfully tested a precision-guided high-speed low drag (HSLD) bomb weighing 500 kg, which is the largest bomb locally developed in the country so far.
India has also tried with many foreign firms for developing a true smart bomb for its armed forces but none has shown a very high accuracy in terms of technology.
In 2016, OIS Advanced Technology (OISAT) had teamed up with Sagem of France to establish a manufacturing unit for precisionguided guidance kits to meet domestic requirements. But the deal did not go through.
Now the latest Israeli offer may sound quite unique as they are ready to do offset and make in India which means India can produce it domestically.
But a long-term plan of action is required in terms of PGM technologies which can be used by artificial technologies in the infrared spectrum.
This will make Indian armed forces truly a 3D or multi-dimensional force which can hit any target deep inside enemy territory under any circumstances.