India opts for Al Tariq

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The United Arab Emirates’ AL TARIQ and India’s Bharat Dynamics Limited have signed a memorandum of understanding for the production of Al Tariq precision guided weapons in India.

AL TARIQ, part of the Edge group, said the agreement was signed during the Aero India 2023 exhibition earlier this month. The two companies will jointly produce the Al Tariq line of all weather, day/night, long-range precision-guided munition (LR-PGM) kits in India.

Theunis Botha, CEO of AL TARIQ, said: “We are extremely proud to be partnering with Bharat Dynamics, a well-established manufacturer of high technology weapon systems for the Indian Air Force. The MoU exemplifies the willingness and intent of AL TARIQ and Bharat Dynamics in cooperating and identifying opportunities to jointly produce the AL TARIQ LR-PGM in India. It will also enable us to meet the Indian Air Force’s requirements while fulfilling the Government of India’s ‘Make in India’ mandate.”

Commodore A Madhavarao (retired), Director (Technical) of BDL, said: “Our partnership with AL TARIQ, a producer of outstanding, mission-proven precision-guided munition kits, marks a notable addition to our precision strike portfolio. Under the MoU, Indian variants of AL TARIQ’s LR-PGMs will be developed and produced at our state-of-the-art facilities, adding a modular, advanced long-range capability to our precision-guided munition offerings.”

Also at Aero India, AL TARIQ signed a memorandum of understanding with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to explore the feasibility of integrating AL TARIQ’s line of LR-PGMs onto HAL platforms.

At the signing, Botha said: “Through our partnership with HAL, a leading producer of latest technology military aircraft, we can offer customers a LR-PGM that provides long stand-off ranges and increased safety. Additionally, we look forward to offering a unique, modular LR-PGM solution that will expand and enhance the aerial strike capability of the end-user.”

S Krishna Kumar, Executive Director (Aircraft Research & Design Centre) of HAL, said: “High precision, long range, focused munition integration will improve the lethality of our fighter aircraft. ARDC along with other stakeholders will explore the possibilities of integration of AL TARIQ’s LR-PGM solution to fixed-wing aircraft of Indian origin.”

Al Tariq is a modular family of precision guided munitions designed for the Mk 81, Mk 82, and Mk 83 (250 lb, 500 lb, 1 000 lb) aerial bombs, offering long stand-off ranges exceeding 120 km and multiple seeker options. The system offers a wireless integration option or a digital solution for aircraft requiring either MIL-STD-1760 or DIGIBUS interfacing. The standard Al Tariq kit gives a range of up to 40 km while the Al Tariq-LR version has fold-out wings for a range of 120 km.

The existing Al Tariq range comprises guidance kits for the Mk 81 and Mk 82 bombs, but this is also being expanded to include the Mk 83/HSLD 450 (1 000 lb/454 kg) bomb. The winged Mk 83 version is being qualified through flight trials, with production expected from the second quarter of 2023, while the existing Mk 81 and Mk 82 kits are currently in production.

At the Africa Aerospace and Defence 2022 exhibition last September, AL TARIQ unveiled the new X-series guidance kit for Mk 81 or Mk 82 bombs – the kit is lighter than previous versions, and is designed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and smaller counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft. The X-series kit uses the body from the Mk 81/82 series and is fitted with flip-up fins. It can be dropped from up to 40 000 feet and travel at Mach .9 with a maximum range of 40 km.

The Al Tariq weapon started life as the Denel Dynamics Umbani (Lightning) guided bomb system, which has a terminal accuracy of 3 metres circular error probable (half of the weapons land within that distance of the aim point) using laser target-designation or an imaging infra-red seeker.

The Umbani was first test dropped off a South African Air Force Hawk in 2011 and then became the first product (the Al Tariq) of a joint venture between Denel Dynamics (49%) and Tawazun (51%). Tawazun Dynamics supplied the weapon to the UAE Air Force, where it equips its Mirage 2000s and Hawks. It is believed to have been used in combat in Yemen. More recently, Egypt acquired the Al Tariq for its Mirage 2000 and F-16 Fighting Falcon combat jets.

Tawazun became Barij Dynamics in 2018 and in November 2019, Barij became AL TARIQ when it was consolidated along with 25 other UAE defence entities under the Edge group.