MICA on Su-30 MKI

-Bhagavan Hindustani

Recently, a report emerged that the IAF had tested the MICA missile from a Su-30MKI. The aircraft reportedly took off from the Kalaikunda airbase in West-Bengal and successfully fired an IR (Infrared) variant of the MICA missile. The missile neutralised a low flying EAT (Expendable Aerial Target) that demonstrated its capability of targeting low flying low observable targets (essentially a stealth fighter).

The short-range missile currently equipped on the MKI is R73 and comparatively this missile is older and inferior to the MICA. MICA is a short to medium range A2A (air-to-air) missile that is already in use by the IAF with its Mirage-2000s and it is also integrated with the Rafale jet fighters that India had bought recently. The latest buzz is all about MICA being test fired from a Russian platform.

MICA for Might

Though the IAF had been using MICA for quite sometime now, integrating it with the most capable aircraft that the IAF currently possesses will add a new dimension to the capabilities of the IAF. As MICA is one of the most advanced A2A missile that is currently available in the world, this integration of MICA increases the lethality of the MKI.

A lot of curiosity was raised when the initial reports surfaced. Many wondered and rejected these claims as baseless as these missiles are of French origin and Su30 MKI of the IAF is of Russian origin. However, India is well-known for integrating eastern and western weapon systems but integrating a cutting-edge western missile onto a Russian platform would have required decent amount of negotiation. The testing of the missile from the Russian platform is an indication that India managed to work with Russia and France to mitigate the differences. However, it remains unclear how the data link requirements for the integration were addressed.

Another option – ASRAAM?

Earlier last year some unconfirmed reports suggested that IAF wanted to integrate ASRAAM with the MKI and other aircrafts as a standard fleet WVR missile. ASRAAM, which stands for Advanced Short-Range Air to Air Missile, was originally developed to replace the ageing AIM-9 sidewinder missile for the United States and its allies. This missile is also designated as the AIM-130. In 2014 India signed an agreement with the United Kingdom to buy around 380 ASRAAM missiles to be used on the Mirage, Jaguar and other platforms. According to some sources, the price of MICA is slightly cheaper than the ASRAAM making it more economical for the IAF to operate.

Bringing in MICA into the picture changes the future for IAF as MICA can be used as an alternative to ASRAAM bringing in commonality across all the platforms. MICA can also be used by ground units via vertical launcher systems (VLS). This gives the IAF an technological edge over the enemies.

Let’s compare the three missiles in order to understand why this is a big development:

ParticularsASRAAMMICAR73
Length2.90m3.1m2.93m
Weight88kg110kg105kg
GuidanceImaging InfraredImaging InfraredCryogenic cooled IR seeker
Max Speed3.5 Mach4 Mach2.5 Mach
Range50km500m – 60km30km (R73 M1)
Warhead10 KG12 KG7.4 KM
PropulsionDual burn high impulseSingle Stage Solid Rocket MotorSolid-fuel rocket engine

The unit cost of ASRAAM is more than £200,000 and MICA delivers almost similar performance figures at a comparatively cheaper cost. In comparison with the R73, the MICA is a significant boost and makes the SU30 MKI significantly more capable than before.

By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.